A task force funded by the National Rifle Association presented a plan Tuesday suggesting the training and arming of security guards at every school in the nation.
The recommendation was part of 225 pages on how to improve school security in response to December’s Newton, Conn., massacre that left 20 first-graders and six adults dead.
Asa Hutchinson, former Arkansas Republican congressman, led the task force and unveiled the plan — which cost the NRA more than $1 million — at a packed news conference in Washington.
According to the New York Times, Hutchison said “the presence of armed security personnel adds a layer of security and diminishes response time” in a shooting. He also cited the 1997 Pearl High School shooting, which was thwarted by an assistant principal who ran to his truck to retrieve a .45-caliber semiautomatic pistol.
In the room with Hutchinson was Mark Mattioli, whose 6-year-old son, James, was killed in Newtown.
“I think politics needs to be set aside here, and I hope this doesn’t lead to name-calling,” he said. “This is a recommendation for solutions, real solutions, that will make our kids safer. That’s what we need.”
A week after the Newton shootings, NRA’s executive director, Wayne LaPierre, held a news conference at which he blamed violent video games, the mass media and lax law enforcement for the shooting.
“The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun,” he said at the time.
According to the Associated Press, it was tthe NRA-sponsored plan’s suggestion for 40- to 60- hour training for school employees who pass background checks to provide armed protection while at work that drew the most attention.
Dan Domenech, executive director of the American Association of School Administrators, said his group opposes arming "a teacher or an employee who simply has taken a course and now has the ability to carry a weapon."
Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers called it a "cruel hoax that will fail to keep our children and schools safe" while helping only gun manufacturers.
With the Senate and Congress set to debate and consider gun control legislation next week and President Obama’s recent proposals for tough new controls on gun ownership, gun control has “catapulted to the top of [the] domestic agenda.”