WASHINGTON – The Senate gun control debate on the near horizon, a National Rifle Association-sponsored report 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 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.
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.