The usually defensive National Rifle Association (NRA) is switching its stance and going on the offense with its push for the National School Shield Program, which would put armed guards in place at schools across the nation. The NRA presented its plan to Congress today in a report that details its findings on past mass shootings and how future gun violence within schools can be prevented. The report is being used to shift the Senate’s attention from the gun control debate to focus more on preventing gun violence in schools.The timing couldn’t have been more orchestrated as the presentation of the NRA’s report comes at the same time that lawmakers are lobbying the Senate to approve a plan to expand firearm background checks.
At the conference held this morning, Mark Mattioli, whose six-year-old son James was killed during the Sandy Hook shooting, showed his support and praised the NRA for developing the “comprehensive program”.
“I wanted to take a minute and applaud … the NRA for coming up and spending the time and resources on putting a program like this together. We send our children off to school. There are certain expectations and obviously in Sandy Hook, those expectations were not met,” Mattioli expressed during the NRA conference. “If you look what took place in Sandy Hook, mental health is a huge component of that. We need to focus resource attention, research. We need the kids to be safe.”
Opponents to the program had doubts that the program may be too costly and that there is hardly any research on the effectiveness of armed guards being put in place at a school. They also brought up that an armed guard at Columbine High School was unable to stop the chaos that unfolded in the Columbine shooting of 1999.
Some communities are taking desperate measures to get their points across, such as an ordinance in small-town Nelson, Georgia that was approved Monday and requires that all qualifying residents own a gun. Advocates that passed the ordinance said they are merely trying to prove a point about citizen gun rights. Following suit with the NRA, those proposing gun control are also lobbying their plans to the Senate and Congress. Connecticut lawmakers revealed a state-wide proposal Monday that would ban high-capacity gun magazines and make new requirements on previous magazines that hold 10 or more bullets. If passed, the proposal would also create a dangerous weapon offender registry, call for background checks for all gun sales, add 100 new types of assault weapons to the banned list, and require that a weapon be banned if it meets at least one criterion on a long list of banned features.
Krysta Loera is a writer and researcher with Ring of Fire.