The NRA has proposed “School Shield” as part of a safety measure and to counteract the growing support to gun control bills introduced since the Connecticut mass shooting.
The most attention-getting recommendation: to train select school personnel to carry firearms. The task force steered away from an earlier NRA proposal to rely on volunteers to provide security.
Asa Hutchinson, a former Republican congressman from Arkansas and head of the Drug Enforcement Administration under President George W. Bush, announced the National School Shield task force findings in a Washington news conference amid tight security. The 225-page report makes eight recommendations for school administrators, local, state and federal policymakers, and the NRA.
Other suggestions include an online self-assessment tool for each school to evaluate security gaps, improved coordination among the departments of Education, Justice and Homeland Security, and a pilot program on threat assessment and mental health.
“This report includes everything from best practices to technology to a review of surveillance,” Hutchinson said, adding that the recommendations were independent of the gun rights group.
The NRA’s school safety initiative was announced in a news conference in December, one week after the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., that left 20 children and six educators dead. Initially, NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre called for mobilizing current and retired law enforcement, security guards and private citizens to place an armed guard in every school.
On Tuesday, Hutchinson said school superintendents had expressed “great reluctance” about armed volunteers.
“That’s not the best solution,” he said. He also emphasized that the training should not be required for teachers.
The NRA took a “wait and see” approach to the task force’s proposals.