The Times West Virginian

Headline News

April 3, 2013

NRA study suggests trained, armed school staffers

WASHINGTON — The Senate gun control debate on the near horizon, a National Rifle Association-sponsored report on Tuesday proposed a program for schools to train selected staffers as armed security officers. The former Republican congressman who headed the study suggested at least one protector with firearms for every school, saying it would speed responses to attacks.

The report’s release served as the gun-rights group’s answer to improving school safety after the gruesome December slayings of 20 first-graders and six adults at a Newtown, Conn., elementary school. And it showed the organization giving little ground in its fight with President Barack Obama over curbing firearms.

Obama’s chief proposals include broader background checks for gun buyers and bans on assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines — both of which the NRA opposes.

The study — unveiled at a news conference watched over by several burly, NRA-provided guards — made eight recommendations, including easing state laws that might bar a trained school staff member from carrying firearms and improving school coordination with law enforcement agencies. But drawing the most attention was its suggested 40- to 60-hour training for school employees who pass background checks to also provide armed protection while at work.

“The presence of an armed security personnel in a school adds a layer of security and diminishes the response time that is beneficial to the overall security,” said Asa Hutchinson, a GOP former congressman from Arkansas who directed the study.

Asked whether every school would be better off with an armed security officer, Hutchinson replied, “Yes,” but acknowledged the decision would be made locally.

It is unusual for guards to provide security at events that lack a major public figure at the National Press Club, which houses offices for many news organizations. NRA spokesman Andrew Arulanandam said he did not know whether the guards were armed, and several guards declined to say if they were.

Hutchinson said school security could be provided by trained staff members or school resource officers — police officers assigned to schools that some districts already have.

Dan Domenech, executive director of the American Association of School Administrators, said while a trained law enforcement officer with a gun would be valuable, his group opposes arming “a teacher or an employee who simply has taken a course and now has the ability to carry a weapon.”

The Brady Campaign, a leading gun-control group, accused the NRA of “missing the point” by ignoring the need for expanded background checks and other measures the Senate is considering. It said people want “a comprehensive solution that not only addresses tragic school shootings, but also helps prevent the thousands of senseless gun deaths each year.”

Also denouncing the recommendations was Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, which represents 1.5 million teachers and other workers. She called it a “cruel hoax that will fail to keep our children and schools safe” while helping only gun manufacturers.

The NRA released its report as congressional momentum seems to have stalled for any sweeping steps to curb firearms violence.

Top Senate Democrats have little hope for a proposed ban on assault weapons, and the prospects for barring large-capacity magazines also seem difficult. Key senators remain short of a bipartisan compromise on requiring gun transactions between private individuals to undergo federal background checks, which currently apply only to sales handled by licensed gun dealers. The Senate plans to begin debating gun legislation next week.

White House spokesman Jay Carney said administration officials were seeking middle ground and emphasized background checks, widely seen by gun control advocates as the most effective step available.

“We are working with lawmakers of both parties, and trying to achieve a compromise that can make this happen. Especially when it comes to the background checks,” Carney told reporters.

The spokesman commented as a White House official revealed that the president plans a trip next week to Connecticut, scene of the horrific elementary school shootings that spurred the new push for gun control legislation. Obama wants to use the trip to build pressure on Congress to pass legislation.

Obama also plans to focus on firearms curbs in a trip Wednesday to Denver, not far from last summer’s mass shooting in a movie theater in Aurora, Colo.

The 225-page study cost the NRA more than $1 million, Hutchinson said. The task force included several former top officials of federal law enforcement and security agencies, including the Secret Service and Homeland Security Department.

Hutchinson acknowledged that the study omitted an earlier NRA recommendation that retired police officers and other volunteers be armed to provide school safety. He said the idea encountered “great reluctance” from school superintendents.

Hutchinson said the NRA did not interfere with his task force’s work. In a written statement, the NRA said the report “will go a long way to making America’s schools safer.”

Hutchinson also called “totally inadequate” a gun control measure working through the Connecticut legislature that includes a tightening of the state’s assault weapons ban. The measure wouldn’t prevent an attacker with a handgun or other firearms from attacking a school, he said.

Debbie Leidlein, chairwoman of the Newtown Board of Education, said having trained staff members carry weapons “can become a dangerous situation to have any individuals outside of those who have police training to be carrying weapons around children.”

But the proposal won support from Mark Mattioli, whose 6-year-old son James was killed at Newtown and who attended the NRA news conference.

“These are recommendations for solutions, real solutions that will make our kids safer,” Mattioli said.

———

Associated Press writers John Christoffersen in New Haven, Conn., and Carolyn Thompson in Buffalo, N.Y., contributed to this report.

 

1
Text Only
Headline News
  • Senate changes House bill for highway funds

    The Senate on Tuesday voted to change the funding and timing of a House bill to keep federal highway funds flowing to states in an effort to force Congress to come to grips with chronic funding problems that have plagued transportation programs in recent years.

    July 29, 2014

  • State close to national average in credit card debt

    Credit card debt may have reached its lowest level in a decade, but according to a recent study on personal debt vs. income, just as more people are paying off their credit card debt monthly, nearly the same number of people are being reported for unpaid bills.

    July 29, 2014

  • New VA secretary confirmed by Senate

    The Senate on Tuesday unanimously confirmed former Procter & Gamble CEO Robert McDonald as the new Veterans Affairs secretary, with a mission to overhaul an agency beleaguered by long veterans’ waits for health care and VA workers falsifying records to cover up delays.

    July 29, 2014

  • W.Va. man arrested after child found in hot car

    A Wheeling man faces charges that he left his 18-month-old daughter in a hot car while he was asleep on a couch.

    July 29, 2014

  • Board to meet on dangerous animals list

    CHARLESTON (AP) — A board tasked with compiling a list of animals that are illegal to keep as pets in West Virginia will consider one that’s shorter than a list suggested earlier.

    July 28, 2014

  • Clinton impeachment shadows GOP lawsuit against Obama

    The last time Republicans unleashed impeachment proceedings against a Democratic president, they lost five House seats in an election they seemed primed to win handily.

    July 28, 2014

  • Study: Fist bumps less germy than handshakes

    When it comes to preventing the spread of germs, maybe the president is on to something with his fondness for fist bumps.

    July 28, 2014

  • Obama Exporting Pollu_time.jpg ‘Not in my backyard’: U.S. sending dirty coal abroad

    As  the Obama administration weans the U.S. off dirty fuels blamed for global warming, energy companies have been sending more of America’s unwanted energy leftovers to other parts of the world where they could create even more pollution.
    This fossil fuel trade threatens to undermine President Barack Obama’s strategy for reducing the gases blamed for climate change and reveals a little-discussed side effect of countries acting alone on a global problem. The contribution of this exported pollution to global warming is not something the administration wants to measure, or even talk about.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • U.S.: Russia fired rockets into Ukraine

    Stepping up pressure on Moscow, the U.S. on Sunday released satellite images it says show that rockets have been fired from Russia into neighboring eastern Ukraine and that heavy artillery for separatists has crossed the border.
    The images, which came from the U.S. Director of National Intelligence and could not be independently verified by The Associated Press, show blast marks where rockets were launched and craters where they landed. Officials said the images show heavy weapons fired between July 21 and July 26 — after the July 17 downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17.

    July 28, 2014

  • Plan to simplify health renewals may backfire

    If you have health insurance on your job, you probably don’t give much thought to each year’s renewal. But make the same assumption in one of the new health law plans, and it could lead to costly surprises.
    Insurance exchange customers who opt for convenience by automatically renewing their coverage for 2015 are likely to receive dated and inaccurate financial aid amounts from the government, say industry officials, advocates and other experts.
    If those amounts are too low, consumers could get sticker shock over their new premiums. Too high, and they’ll owe the tax man later.

    July 28, 2014

House Ads
Featured Ads