Guns on campus: NRA to announce school safety measures Tuesday
(CNN) — The nation’s largest pro-gun lobby is set to prominently return to the debate over gun rights and restrictions this week when it unveils the conclusions of its school safety initiative in Washington on Tuesday.
The National Rifle Association first announced the National School Shield Program in December as its response to the Newtown, Connecticut, elementary school shooting a week earlier. It posted a bare-bones website and pledged to report back with a set of school safety proposals.
On Tuesday the NRA will announce its own findings and issue a report on how they believe schools can prevent future gun violence similar to the Newtown tragedy.
The National School Shield Program will present to lawmakers, law enforcement, school officials and the public a combination of policy proposals and resources to implement its recommendations, CNN has learned.
The NRA is expected to give Congress legislative proposals in the Tuesday report.
Law enforcement officials will find training recommendations to prepare the armed guards who the organization believes should be available to schools.
State and local officials will find guidelines on how to alter their ordinances to permit the armed guards.
Immediately following the Sandy Hook Elementary tragedy, NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre told reporters, supporters and a few vocal protesters, “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.”
“Why is the idea of a gun good when it’s used to protect our president or our country or our police, but bad when it’s used to protect our children in their schools? They’re our kids,” he said.
LaPierre, the longtime face of the organization, stood firm to that position and hasn’t wavered despite immense criticism and pressure.
Some lawmakers in several states have considered proposals to arm and train teachers. While the Obama administration hasn’t ruled out some form of armed protection on school property, Vice President Joe Biden made it clear the idea wasn’t his top priority. In a conference call last week with supporters, Biden indicated he preferred background checks be performed on all gun sales and took issue with the idea of arming legislators.
“The last thing we need, and ask any teacher, is to arm teachers … Turn schools into armed camps,” he said.
“But what does make sense is if a school decides they want to have a school resource officer – that is a sworn shield, someone who is a sworn police officer, in or out of uniform, armed or unarmed, depending on what the school wants – in the school to be able to have contact with and build relationships with not only the staff but the students in that school,” he said.
Schools that do not want the dedicated police officer might use the funds on an additional counselor, he suggested.
Biden’s position suggests he and the NRA may share some common ground on the issue.
Both appear to agree that schools need to be empowered to have armed guards if they want them and that infrastructure needs to be in place to train those guards.
Funding such programs remains a key sticking point between the White House and the NRA, including how lawmakers would dole out the grant money to local schools.
The Tuesday announcement is expected to heat up the contentious debate between the two sides.
It comes shortly before the Senate is expected to take up a measure to expand the scope of background checks and further criminalize gun trafficking. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid proposed the legislation and says it also addresses school safety.
Although it does not include the assault weapons ban and restrictions on gun magazine size, Reid indicated the law would be open to amendments.
Since the days immediately after the school massacre, polls including CNN/ORC surveys have shown declining support for strict gun regulations.
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