The National Rifle Association has put together a detailed plan that calls for armed personnel in schools to boost school security.
In a 225-page report, the group’s National School Shield Task Force, formed in the aftermath of the shooting deaths of 20 children and six school employees at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., calls for professionally trained armed personnel to be present at schools to provide protection against violence.
“Armed, trained, qualified school security personnel will be one element of that plan, but by no means the only element,” says Asa Hutchinson, a former U.S. senator and leader of the task force.
The report includes information on what the task force has identified as best practices for school security and includes guidance for training people as armed personnel at schools.
The task force recommendations:
- Schools are encouraged to use a training program developed by the task force to provide professional training of armed personnel in schools. “This training will only be open to those who are designated by school officials and qualified by appropriate background investigation, testing and relevant experience,” the report says.
- To allow for a selected school staff member to be designated, trained and armed on school property, the states will have to remove restrictions that prohibit anyone other than a sworn law-enforcement officer or licensed security guard to carry a firearm in a school
- Each school that employs a school resource office should have an agreement between the appropriate law-enforcement agency and the school district that defines the duties and responsibilities of the officer. “The objective… is not to increase juvenile arrests within a school, but to provide security and to support the normal disciplinary policies of a school.”
- Administrators should be encouraged to use an online self-assessment tool to enable them to comprehensively evaluate and assess the security gaps and vulnerabilities of each school. The report says the task force is creating such a tool, the Armed Aggressor Performance Guidelines and Criteria. The task force “should pilot this self-assessment tool in three school districts of different sizes in order to perfect the questions and scoring. After the pilot projects are completed, this assessment tool should be deployed in a secure fashion on the (National Shield Safety) website for free access by all schools who obtain authorization codes.”
- Although standards related to school security vary from state to state, all public schools should be required to take part in an assessment and develop a security plan based on an institution’s unique requirements.
- A lead federal agency should be designated to coordinate programs and the funding of local school safety efforts. “The Department of Homeland Security should be designated as the lead, supported by the Department of Education and Department of Justice,” the task force suggests.
- A private non-profit advocacy and education organization should be selected to advocate for and support school safety. The task force volunteers itself for the job. “The National School Shield is in a position with adequate funding and support from the NRA to fulfill this important national mission,” the report says. Every school would be offered free access to the online resources of the National School Shield, but the report recommends that before a school can be certified as a member of National School Shield, it must meet several criteria: completion of online security assessment; development of a comprehensive all-hazards school security plan; coordination and training with local law enforcement and first responders; presence in the school of a trained armed law-enforcement officer or trained armed school staff; and periodic reviews of school security program.
- As part of its comprehensive security plan, each school should develop a threat assessment team, which will work in coordination with mental health professionals to create a positive school environment that encourages sharing information on early warning signs and reducing incidences of bullying or other antisocial behavior.
The task force based its recommendations on numerous findings: