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The National Rifle Association’s National School Shield Task Force has released its post-Newtown report on school safety. It’s about as controversial as the move to put healthy food into school lunches. The Task Force’s findings—small schools have the worst safety, safety plans are often inadequate, School Resource Officers are a good thing, etc.—are hardly a revelation. Their six recommendations are equally unobjectionable. What is surprising is what the report doesn’t include. But first . . .

In terms of “best practices,” the Task Force report is a tour de force. It highlights effective prevention techniques to guard against potential school shooters within the student population. It illustrates the importance of physical security—at great length and in considerable detail. It analyzes bus movements and transportation “vulnerabilities.”

The Task Force report offers mission critical information for schools looking to improve their emergency response plans; including the provision of an Incident Command Center and the processes and equipment needed to assure communications during an active shooter incident. There’s even a bit on how to reunify students and parents in a crisis.

The National School Shield Task Force report is comprehensive, with a plethora of helpful links. Anyone interested in school safety, anyone tasked with protecting children against an active shooter or shooters (including a terrorist attack), is well advised to eyeball the document.

Strangely (politically?) the word “armed” doesn’t appear until page 92. This despite NRA Veep Wayne LaPierre’s post-Newtown call for an armed guard in every school in America. In fact, the Task Force takes a decidedly non-forceful approach to the topic of armed defenders inside schools.

Our goal in the ensuing discussion is neither to advocate for nor against all or any of the possibilities in a specific case; rather, it is to provide a cogent analysis of some of the potential benefits as well as the accompanying risks to introducing armed personnel of various forms into schools. The ultimate decision regarding whether to introduce any form of armed security at a school must always be made by local stakeholders on the ground; nevertheless, it is the belief of the National School Shield Task Force that many schools across the country stand to benefit from the presence of armed security and,in the quest to make our schools safer, should leave no option off the table.

So much for NRA “extremism.” Or, I’m afraid, efficacy. And maybe even credibility. Who was it that said “the only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun”? Why that was NRA Vice President Wayne LaPierre, immediately after the Sandy Hook spree killing—at the same time he urged Uncle Sam to put an armed guard in every school in America.

The NRA Task Force moots four types of armed school security personnel: School Resource Officers (SROs), private contracted security, armed citizen volunteers; and principles, teachers and other school staff. The Task Force is highly antagonistic to the two latter categories.

Reading between the lines, Asa Hutchinson’s mob actively argue against armed “non-professionals” safeguarding schools. Here’s their caution against armed volunteers (similar to the warnings issued about armed school personnel):

. . . because such an individual is neither an SRO nor a professional security contractor, an additional burden may be placed on a school or school district in ensuring that such an individual is highly trained to operate with a weapon in a school environment. It is absolutely imperative that schools consult with subject matter experts, local law enforcement, and other stakeholders in ensuring that any individual carrying a weapon on school property undergo a physical exam and preferably psychological testing, as well as extensive initial and in-service training throughout their service . . .

[Schools] should seriously consider the legal and physical risk of having a weapon on school grounds and that even the most highly trained individuals are capable of negligent behavior with their weapons . . . A multitude of other choices-
including but not limited to weapon choice, weapon security, weapon retention, ammunition choice, weapon ownership, and weapon storage–must be addressed by the school and qualified security and weapons experts.

I profoundly disagree. Not only is the Task Force giving ammunition to those who believe that citizens shouldn’t be armed generally, they’re making it seem as if defending school children through force of arms requires spec ops training.

As a graduate of SIG SAUER’s Active Shooter Instructors’ Training Course I recommend school-specific training for armed defenders. And a rifle. But TTAG’s active school shooter simulation proved that specialized training isn’t necessary to take out a spree killer. A .38 revolver did the trick in the hands of “rank amateur.”

Erecting barriers to armed school personnel is counterproductive, to say the least. If more guns (in the hands of law-abiding adults) equals less crime on the streets, why doesn’t that formula apply in our schools? Which brings us to what’s missing from the equation: a call to remove barriers to arming members of the school community.

For example,  NRA’s National School Shield Task Force report says nothing about repealing the Gun-Free School Zones Act (GFSZA) of 1990. The Act makes it a federal offense to carry a firearm inside a school zone unless the gun owner has a carry permit (so much for Constitutional carry) and the school doesn’t ban firearms from its grounds and the surrounding area.

Clock this text: “Nothing in this subsection shall be construed as preempting or preventing a State or local government from enacting a statute establishing gun free school zones as provided in this subsection.” In other words, the GFSZA surrenders Americans’ Constitutional right to keep and bear arms at the school gate.

In many states, teachers, administrators and school staff members who want to carry a firearm to defend their lives and the lives of their charges can’t do so legally. The GFSZA also reaffirms local and/or state prohibitions against parents (a group completely ignored in the Task Force report) carrying a firearm in the school parking lot, never mind onto school grounds.

Clearly, the NRA Task Force decided to take a non-controversial, relatively “gun-free” approach to school security. In so doing, they may have gained supporters amongst school communities antagonistic to gun rights guaranteed by the Second Amendment. Let’s hope so, because that’s the only reasonable excuse for failing to fully confront the question of civilian armed defense within our schools.

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  1. Screw ’em. If my club didn’t require NRA membership, I would be gone by now. As it is, I guess they’ll be getting my $35 until my club listens to my petitions and switches groups to support.

    • +1. I live in California and all the NRA does is send me emails imploring me to contact my representatives to protest the draconian legislation being proposed and enacted. And oh by the way, “send us some money so we can continue to protect your rights in Washington.” The SAF, GOA and GOC are the only organizations taking the fight to the States, where the biggest challenges to the Second Amendment are taking place. I can’t understand why the gun clubs don’t honor membership in these organizations as an alternative to the NRA.

  2. It could be that the NRA report was crafted to leave middle ground open so a compromise can be worked out with the more rational members of the community who aren’t into guns and gun rights.

    If the anti’s buck against such compromises it just adds further proof that they aren’t concerned with school safety, rather they’re out to disarm even the good guys.

  3. Now this is basically a semantic difference, but the Task Force was supposed to be independent form the NRA.

  4. Even if they had a solid plan that doesn’t require tons of funding, the current administration won’t implement it. First, it wasn’t their idea, and that won’t win votes. Second, this administration is foaming at the mouth for another tragedy or ten to make a successful push at disarmament.

  5. Im trying to withhold a knee jerk reaction for the moment and see where this goes.

  6. Good for them.

    Arguments for armed school security from the NRA doesn’t make it more likely to happen, and just costs the NRA political capital.

    It may be that nothing will ever make it clear to the anti-gun morons that having armed people onsite will allow the fastest possible response to an active shooter.

    Or maybe tens or hundreds more children will need to die at the hands of maniacs before they give up on their fantasy of “gun-free school zones”. They need to “hit bottom” and recognize the full, complete, unavoidable, undeniable truth that violence cannot be legislated away before they will be willing to seriously discuss using appropriate violence to deter/stop inappropriate violence.

    In the current environment, the NRA cannot win this “school security” fight and should stop feeding the fire.

    • “In the current environment, the NRA cannot win this “school security” fight and should stop feeding the fire.”

      That’s called “having no balls” or “lacking principles”. I refuse to associate with anyone or any organization that contains said trait.

      • If you think avoiding a fight you can’t win means “having no balls”, you should lay off the steroids.

  7. Its almost as if this report was written by a committee filled with lawyers for a specific, non-gun friendly audience and is therefor a product of compromise and careful language. Their concerns about the legal issues a school will face with a non-professional armed person are valid, even if we wish it weren’t so, and given the intended audience it seems to strike a reasonable, measured tone.

    I get why people want more but the reality is before you get the schools, politicians, and patents to “yes” you first have to get them to “maybe,” and coming on too strong or too ideological is counterproductive to that. If this report:

    1. Helps counteract the active demonization the NRA has suffered such that it is seen as a honest broker in matters of school safety and;

    2. Helps normalize the idea of guns being used in schools to defend kids

    it will be a major step in the right direction and a bridge to actually expanding the scope of liberty. Also, if an “independent” report sounded exactly like a WLP speech it would hurt the NRA’s credibility going forward.

    • Agreed. If they actively said a gun in the school is a must, then thats all many would read and no one would then read the report and take from it all the additional valuable advice and tactics. Of course I am an advocate of armed teachers and staff, but its easy to make it seam we mean incompetent people should carry at schools. I dont know how many times ive had to explain to antis that no one is saying to give a firearm to every teacher regardless if they have basic gun safety knowledge or not. Gun owners undersrand this implicitly, but antis do not.

  8. Let GOA be the ultra-principled steel-spined fighters on this one–they can handle the real and tough legal challenges. Let the NRA be the more popular “reasoned approach” frontman on this one–they’re more visible to the public. Force the antis to show that they want control over adults and not safety for the kids.

    The GOA doesn’t get mentioned in half the comments on Huffington Post like the NRA does. Take away some of the antis ammo.

  9. I think most people here absolutely agree that we are in a culture war. This is not something that we can win through brute force. Or rather, we can win a battle through brute force (e.g., turning our power and passion into representative changes in the 2014 mid-terms), but we cannot achieve a sustainable victory until we don’t just change politicians, but change the electorate.

    We are seeing unprecedented battles within states where we would expect strong anti-gunners, such as NY, MA, NJ, IL, and CT. But look at Maryland and Colorado. Colorado, a western state with a rich – and relatively recent – gun culture. If it can happen in Colorado, it can happen anywhere in the West. We can win short-term victory through passionate activism, but we cannot win the war only through being more passionate or energetic than our enemies. We have to also be smarter. We have to be more persuasive, not to the residents of the slave states, but to the residents of the places like Colorado that are vulnerable to our opponents.

    Yeah, maybe the NRA wimped out. But has any recent behavior of the NRA demonstrated they don’t have the balls for a fight? Really? We win battles by being ballsy, but we win wars by being smart. There is some percentage of the people on the anti-gunner side that we will NEVER convince. Those, we have to insulate by freezing out their effectiveness when the electorate is involved. There are many, many people on the anti-gunner side that are somewhat more ambivalent – the ones who responded after Newtown to the national polls with agreement to ban MSRs and magazines, but who in the more recent polls are going sort of “yeah, maybe, but when is someone going to do something with the deficit or create jobs?”

    We need to win THOSE people. Moderates will always outnumber the extremists in any group. We have to win those people to our cause or our rights will continually be at risk. Make no mistake, while the Second Amendment may be hugely important, it can be modified legally, contitutionally, through the amendment process. If we cannot do something to win over the majority of those who are moderates – from the right and the left – to our cause, then we may wake up one day and all of the screaming and gnashing of teeth amongst the faithful won’t prevent the Second Amendment from being modified to say, “the rights of the people to keep and bear arms can be infringed in any way we say it can.”

    I’m curious to see where this report goes, who reacts to it, and how. At the very least, we have stunned the anti-gunners with some fancy footwork – they were expecting a right hook and are missed the fact we are about to knee them in the balls. Should be interesting to see where this goes…

  10. The NRA School Shield idea was a non starter from the jump.

    Mindset is what wins fights.Not hardware.If you give a weapon to a teacher or volunteer who is NOT prepared to kill someone ,all that’s happened is you’ve armed another victim.Naturally people in any profession with the combat mindset is extraordinarily rare:if Law Enforcement isn’t exactly filled with expert shots with the will to kill if need be,there’s no way random volunteers or school staff as a collective will have a greater number of mentally prepared personnel.

    That’s one side of the equation.The other is the factual reality that very few teachers would take advantage of being armed if they had the chance.Maybe 10% of staffers would exercise their right to carry. As such the NRAs initial advocacy of mass arming of teachers would eventually lead to a Black Eye of monumental proportions: think a negligent discharge which results in the injury or death of a student.The antis would seize on that kind of incident to demonize carry and gun ownership,with the result that the NRA would have provided the enemy with the rope to hang us.

  11. Massad Ayoob has an interesting post today recommending a book about arming teachers or other school staff. The book is available with an online preview and the arming teachers/staff section starts on page 3. That section is worth the read.

    Ayoob’s post is here:

    The book is here:
    Just click on the image of the book to get the preview.

    • Don’t tell me you’ve forgotten about how “fair weather” some of our bloggers are, Ralph.

      It’s so bad with some of them that you could hand these guys a perfectly good AK and they will ditch it the moment someone says “it has terrible mag wobble,” regardless of whether or not it actually does.

      My generation, ladies and gentlemen.

  12. “For example, NRA’s National School Shield Task Force report says nothing about repealing the Gun-Free School Zones Act (GFSZA) of 1990. The Act makes it a federal offense to carry a firearm inside a school zone unless the gun owner has a carry permit (so much for Constitutional carry) and the school doesn’t ban firearms from its grounds and the surrounding area.”

    Acutally, the position is quite in line with another quote from the report:

    “The ultimate decision regarding whether to introduce any form of armed security at a school must always be made by local stakeholders on the ground”

    Under 18 U.S.C. § 922(q)) it is only a *federal* offense to carry if one is not licensed to carry in that state, or “(iv) by an individual for use in a program approved by a school in the school zone;”. So, again, the local stakeholders certainly have the option to set the parameters of the program. Notice that the term program is not defined, so anything that the school board wants to define as a program will do. Want to carry where your kids go to school? Get involved in the school board.

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