So, let's get this straight: One of the nation's most powerful lobbying organizations, the primary function of which is to promote the use of firearms, is currently travelling the country to put together a set of "best practices" and "risk assessment guidelines," which its chief consultant now says will help keep America's schools safe from shootings in a "unique" way. How much do you want to bet that involves more guns? The National Rifle Association's task force of "trained security officials" are trying to put together some kind of new rubric to grade schools and their preparedness for gun violence, all in the name of "safety standards," reports USA Today's Jackie Kucinich, who got the initial outline from Asa Hutchinson, the former A-rated Congressman tapped by the NRA after the Newtown massacre to develop its "good guy with a gun" proposal of putting an armed guard in every school in America.
Trouble is, the NRA hasn't really figured out how to make their plan work in the two months since Hutchinson's team went to work. The thrust of the lobby's plan, unveiled in that bizarre press conference, centers on more armed guards in schools and fewer gun-free zones everywhere. But USA Today reports that the NRA hasn't figured out how to afford that yet: "The NRA has not determined how every school could afford resource officers. Mo Canady, executive director of the National Association of School Resource Officers, said while the salaries vary, officers usually cost a school $50,000 to $80,000 a year."
In his executive actions on gun violence, President Obama did order to "provide law enforcement, first responders, and school officials with proper training for active shooter situations" — when the schools wanted it. But now the NRA, apparently, wants to decide what "proper" means, and when they think certain schools really need guns. "After you look at all of those things and talk to a lot of people then you access what they are doing and what the gaps are in security and more should be done," Hutchinson told the paper. So what are the NRA's scouts finding? What might their new grading system for schools look like? Here's a reading between the lines:
- Schools needs armed guards, not teachers — or not. "Teachers should teach and others should protect," Hutchinson said. Though it seems like they're not completely serious about this idea ...
- Teachers or staffers can fill in as armed guards, if cost is an issue. Which it is, per above. "Hutchinson said they are looking into whether a designated staff member could be trained to fill the role of a security officer," writes Kucinich. This is already in action in at least one Ohio school district.
- Congress should fund and train armed guards in schools. As USA Today reported, armed guards are prohibitively expensive to the extreme degree the NRA wants them, and it sounds like there might be a push by the NRA to get Congress to put more guns in schools. "Hutchinson said Congress's role in this process should be limited to funding grants for additional training for officers in schools," writes Kucinich. So you can be the NRA's lobby on Capitol Hill is getting to work just as fast as its roving band of school surveyors.
- Schools need to be ready, fast, and, well, have more guns. "Hutchinson outlined several factors when judging a school's readiness including the design of the building itself, expected response time from local police, drills that are in place and what kind of training that staff may have if an active shooter situation should occur," writes Kucinich.
The NRA's full guidelines are set to be introduced in April. No word yet on why schools are letting these people inside to study their classrooms in the first place.