Schools in search of a new security plan in the wake of tragedies such as the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting may soon have a new option, funded by the National Rifle Association. The gun rights group wants to develop a high-tech model school plan involving armed personnel, association officials announced at a news conference today (Dec. 21) in Washington, D.C.
"This model security plan will serve as a template, a set of best practices, principles and guidelines that every school in America can tweak as needed and tailor to their own set of circumstances," Asa Hutchinson, a former Republican congressman from Arkansas, said during the conference. Hutchinson will lead a team of independent security experts to make the model. The National Rifle Association will provide funding for researching the model, Wayne LaPierre, the NRA's CEO, said.
"Armed, trained, qualified school security personnel will be one element of that plan, but by no means the only element," Hutchinson said. Individual schools may also decide not to employ the armed personnel recommendations Hutchinson's team will develop, he added. Before Hutchinson spoke, LaPierre called for all schools to have armed police officers on campus.
Hutchinson worked for the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and the Department of Homeland Security during the George W. Bush administration. He now is a partner in his own law firm, according to the firm's website.
Conspicuous security measures in schools, such as cameras and gun-toting personnel, worry kids and interfere with their learning, Eric Rossen, a clinical psychologist and an administrator at the National Association of School Psychologists, told the Washington Post for a story about bulletproof backpacks. At the same time, schools are "one of the safest places for children in America," Rossen said. "So statistically, the psychological costs outweigh any potential benefit" of bulletproof backpacks and similar measures, he said.
The model-building effort is still in its early stages, Hutchinson said, and he had few specifics to share. National Rifle Association officials would not take questions from reporters after their news conference.
Hutchinson said he doesn't want the plans to depend too much on government funding. Instead, they will train and certify volunteers who may be retired police, military or rescue personnel who live near schools.