NRA panel: Weapons training for school staffers - New York News

NRA panel: Weapons training for school staffers

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WASHINGTON -

A school safety panel established by the National Rifle Association says it has developed a "model [weapons] training program" for both police officers and selected school staff members.

It was the December massacre of 20 students and six adults at Connecticut's Sandy Hook Elementary School that sparked a national discussion on what can be done to prevent further tragedies. Later that month, the National Rifle Association called for armed personnel in all schools.

Now, an independent school safety panel put together by the NRA is calling for training for both police officers assigned to schools and for "selected" school personnel who could also be armed.

Former Congressman Asa Hutchinson, who chaired the school safety task force, told a crowded news conference in Washington: "There is the incident in Pearl High School in 1997, where an active shooter went into the school and killed two students and wounded others. There was no school resource officer. The assistant principal, Joel Myrick, left the school, went out to his truck, and retrieved his .45 caliber semi-automatic firearm, returned to the school, and disarmed the assailant."

Less controversial recommendations include security assessments of schools, including doors, windows and fencing. And "threat assessment" teams with a mental health component.

We described the panel's recommendation for staff armament training to two D.C. public school teachers, and got two different reactions.

After being told that the recommendations included 40 to 60 hours of training for school staffers who might be armed, D.C. pre-K teacher Sam Owusu shook his head: "I don't think it is still sufficient. I prefer [only] a police officer."

Katrina Jackson teaches in a D.C. school near where "That father ... gunned-down the mother. And they still haven't found him yet. And our school has been on lockdown. And again, we don't have anyone who is armed in case of something -- some type of issue -- were to occur." Asked if she would like an armed person of some kind in her school every day, Jackson said, "Yes, of course."

Colin Goddard, a survivor of the massacre at Virginia Tech and a spokesman for the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, said he has no objection to better weapons training for selected school staffers.

But Goddard believes the timing of the suggestions is suspicious, an attempt to "distract" people from the issue of universal background checks.

The U.S. Senate is expected to begin debating that, and other gun control issues, next week.

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