The Friends of the NRA released their School Shield report today. If you believe it has evolved from the original post Sandy Hook tone deaf “The only way to stop a bad man with a gun is a good man with a gun” message from NRA talking head Wayne LaPierre you will be sorely disappointed.
You will also find that all twelve members of the task force are from law enforcement and security, none from education and five of those members are from RBT Solutions, a for profit security training group which would likely profit from their recommendations.
There is an old adage that says “If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.”
To the report and its finding. The report is linked so you can read each and every word of it, but let’s summarize the 10 findings and 10 recommendations.
Finding No. 1: There has been insufficient attention paid to school security needs in our nation, and the greatest security gap falls within the medium- to smaller-size schools, which do not have the level of resources of the larger school districts.
In addition, another gap identified by the assessment teams sent out by the National School Shield Task Force is that older schools, constructed more than ten years ago, have greater security challenges than newer facilities. More recently designed schools have more architectural attention devoted to security features in contrast to the building design and layout of older facilities.
Finding No. 2: Many schools do not have a formal, written security plan, and even for those that do, they are often either inadequate or not properly exercised.
Finding No. 3: A properly trained armed school officer, such as a school resource officer, has proven to be an important layer of security for prevention and response in the case of an active threat on a school campus.
Finding No. 4: Local school authorities are in the best position to make a final decision on school safety procedures, specifically whether an armed security guard is necessary and supported by the education and citizen community.
Finding No. 5: Many public and non-public schools are financially unable to include armed security personnel as part of the school security plan and have resorted to school staff carrying firearms in order to provide an additional level of protection for the students and staff in the event of a violent incident on school property.
Finding No. 6: While the local school leadership should make all final decisions regarding the elements of the school security plan, the individual states, with few exceptions, have not made school security an element of adequacy in school standards.
Finding No. 7: School officials are not generally trained in security assessments or the development of comprehensive safety and security plans. Ideally, a school retains professional assistance in developing their school security plans; however, there is a compelling need for professional-quality online self-assessment tools.
Finding No. 8: Federal funding for the personnel costs of SROs has served as a pathway for increased security in our schools, but federal funding has proved unreliable as a long-term solution to the school safety and security needs of our nation.
Finding No. 9: There are numerous federal agencies and programs that provide valuable school safety resources; however, there is a lack of coordination between the federal agencies resulting in gaps, duplication and inefficiencies.
Finding No. 10: History teaches us that in most violent attacks at a school, there are multiple early warning signs, called pre-incident indicators, of a student or outside person who exhibits threatening behavior and poses a risk to the school.
To summarize…Schools haven’t paid attention to security, older schools are harder to secure, armed security is a must, there isn’t enough funding, schools can’t make their own security assessments and, did I mention armed security is a must and there isn’t enough funding.
So, you need armed guards and someone to tell you what to do and you don’t have reasonable funding. Should I also point out that the authors of the report train armed guards and law enforcement and do security assessments? Win-Win for the consultants.
No. 1: Training A model-training program has been developed by the NSS Task Force for the professional training of armed personnel in the school environment.
This training will only be open to those who are designated by school officials and qualified by appropriate background investigation, testing and relevant experience.
No. 2: Adoption of Model Law for Armed School Personnel Many states prohibit anyone other than a sworn law-enforcement officer or licensed security guard to carry a firearm in a public or non-public school. In order for a selected school staff member to be designated, trained and armed on school property, the states will have to change current legal restrictions.
No. 3: School Resource Officer Each school that employs an SRO should have a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), or an “interagency agreement,” between the appropriate law-enforcement agency and the school district. This contract should define the duties and responsibilities of the SRO, as well as the applicable laws, rules and regulations.
No. 4: Online Self-Assessment Tool An internet-based self-assessment tool has been created to allow any school (whether public, private or parochial) to have secure access to comprehensively evaluate and assess the security gaps and vulnerabilities of each school.
No. 5: State Education Adequacy Requirement State standards related to school security vary from non-existent to stringent. Although state responses to school security will naturally vary, there should be a common element that requires all public schools to participate in an assessment and develop a security plan based on the unique requirements of that particular institution.
No. 6: Federal Coordination and Funding Either through legislation or executive action, a lead agency should be designated to coordinate the federal programs and 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.
No. 7: Umbrella National Organization to Advocate and Support School Safety. Because of the limitations of federal, state and local funding for school safety, there is an important role that can be filled by a private non-profit advocacy and education organization. The National School Shield is in a position with adequate funding and support from the NRA to fulfill this important national mission.
The NSS mission would: (a) provide national advocacy for school safety; (b) supply ongoing online self-assessment and other tools for public, private and parochial schools; (c) make available best practices in school safety to help guide schools in the development of school safety and security policies; (d) fund innovative pilot projects and training costs for armed school personnel; and (e) provide state-of-the-art training programs in the area of school safety and security.
No. 8: Specific Pilot Program on Threat Assessments and Mental Health. 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 summarize…The NRA funded study suggests more guns in schools, training by NRA supported businesses, security consulting by NRA supported businesses and there should be an umbrella organization that is, conveniently funded by NRA, change state laws to accommodate recommendations. In other words, this 225 page report is nothing more than a sales pitch for the NRA and its business partners.
One of the recommendations…No. 2, Adoption of Model Law for Armed School Personnel is a demand from the NRA to change state legislation to conform to the NEW NRA recommendations, erasing legislation such as the Safe School Act of 1999 that was championed by the NRA.
“First, we believe in absolutely gun-free, zero-tolerance, totally safe schools. That means no guns in America’s schools, period … with the rare exception of law enforcement officers or trained security personnel.” Wayne LaPierre, 1999
“If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail”
The report makes it very clear that a guard in schools will eliminate the threats to students…but only glosses over the reality of Columbine…there was a trained security officer on site.
It also fails to address the events like the very recent kidnapping off a school bus in Alabama or the Chowchilla School Bus Hijacking in 1976 where buried in a quarry.
Further it doesn’t take into account events like the school shooting in Westside Middle School where, in 1998 five were killed and 10 wounded by students who set up a sniper position across from the school.
Put simply, this “Call for Action” from the NRA only takes into account in school events and its solution is to fortify schools.
Now, let’s look at the numbers. There are over 98,000 public schools in the United States, another 33,000 private schools and the 5,000 or so colleges.
IF a school building has just ONE security officer, and that officer is paid $35,000 per year, school boards and county sheriffs are going to have to come up with $3,400,000,000 per year in school districts and counties that are already laying off teachers and deputy sheriffs and police officers due to lack of tax revenue. Federal funds for COPS and CIS programs have been removed from the federal budget by Congress. And that $3.4Billion does not account for training, certification or school security assessments – which would have to be done every couple of years. And it further doesn’t include the enhanced physical requirements that this report demands.
Now to a humorous, ironic part of this report. Back in December 2012 the NRA emphatically said that we should not have a knee-jerk reaction to the shootings at a elementary school, yet their entire proposal revolves around a shooting at a school…ignoring the dozen other mass shootings in 2012, from theaters to churches to malls to restaurants. And it certainly doesn’t address the other 10,000 killed by gun violence each year.
And one other thing…did you catch the part in the Recommendations that the Department of Homeland Security should be in charge? These are the same folks who now run TSA. And did I mention that five of the Task Force were/are part of Department of Homeland Security…
So, of the 12 members of the NRA advertisement masquerading as a “Call for Action”…five are part of the organization they want running things and five are from a private security company that recommends training and assessments.
McAllister is a life long liberal, environmentalist, Eagle Scout, and even gun owner – born in Harlan, Kentucky and has lived in Southern California, New York City and now resides in Lexington, Kentucky as a Systems Analyst.