After aggressively opposing every single common-sense gun safety measure that the majority of Americans support — including universal background checks, an assault weapons ban, and limiting high-capacity magazines — the National Rifle Association on Tuesday unveiled a plan to weaponize educational institutions.
The 225-page National School Shield Report, which was introduced by former congressman and Drug Enforcement Agency chief Asa Hutchinson, recommends putting armed guards in every school, training and arming school personnel, as well as other school safety proposals.
“The presence of armed security personnel adds a layer of security and diminishes response time” during a shooting, said Hutchinson.
House Gun Violence Prevention Task Force chairman Mike Thompson (D-CA) responded that “arming school personnel and training them for shootouts will only exacerbate the problems,” adding that “passing legislation that enhances school safety is not an acceptable alternative to passing other gun violence prevention measures such as background checks. Congress can and should do both.”
However, a majority of educators do not agree with the NRA’s recommendations. A January National Education Association poll found that “America’s educators resoundingly reject the notion of arming school employees. Only 22 percent of NEA members polled favor a proposal to allow teachers and other school employees to receive firearms training and allow them to carry firearms in schools, while 68 percent oppose this proposal (including 61 percent who strongly oppose it.)” The poll also found that a majority 64 percent of educators support stronger gun laws — including 90 percent for universal background checks , 76 percent for banning military-style semi-automatic assault weapons, and 69 percent supporting limiting high-capacity magazines — all of which the NRA oppose.
The report also fails to say anything about safety plans for movie theaters, shopping malls, houses of worship, restaurants, courthouses, government buildings, inner-city street corners, basements, backyards, bedrooms or the many other places in the nation that mass and individual shootings occur.
While the NRA attempts to steer the debate from gun control to arming schools and so far successfully kills national gun reform legislation, the gun lobby group appears to have less sway at the state level, including the state where 20 children and six adults were gunned down at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown.
On Monday, Connecticut lawmakers reached a bipartisan agreement to pass the toughest gun laws in the nation, including establishing the nation’s first statewide dangerous weapon offender registry, requiring universal background checks for the sale of all firearms, expanding the Connecticut Assault Weapons Ban to include more than 100 additional types of guns, banning the sale or purchase of large-capacity magazines holding more than 10 rounds and registering and restricting already owned large-capacity magazines, requiring state-issued eligibility certificates for the purchase of any rifle, shotgun or ammunition, expanding the firearms safe-storage law, increasing penalties for firearms trafficking and illegal possession offenses, adding a mental health professional to the Board of Firearms Permit Examiners, lengthening the look-back and eligibility periods for persons admitted to a hospital for psychiatric disabilities, and further firearms regulations and restrictions.
Photo: Civil Beat via Flickr.com