The recent slaughter of 19 children and two teachers at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, is pushing the National Rifle Association’s School Shield project back into the limelight, and it’s looking more and more like a big fat scam.
Journalist Judd Legum at Popular Info pulls together court documents, financial reports and press accounts to make the case that School Shield, an effort by the NRA to put armed guards on school campuses, was mainly a fundraising front. In recent years, he reports, the NRA spent more money on new suits for its CEO Wayne LaPierre than on grants through its School Shield program.
Hinky numbers are far from the worst problem with the School Shield program, however. Putting adults with guns in schools is not only ineffective; it imposes a punishing, prison-like atmosphere on our children for a problem they did not create. From Popular Info:
The primary recommendation of the School Shield program is place more armed law enforcement officers at schools. But mass shootings at Uvalde, Columbine and Virginia Tech all took place despite the presence of armed officers on campus. Critics of the program also note that placing armed officers at every school would “increase juvenile contact with the criminal justice system” and “increase the potential for injuries and deaths from firearms.”
Other recommendations of the School Shield program are dystopian. The NRA recommends that schools eliminate trees near buildings “to prevent roof and upper-level window access to school property.” Any trees that remain should be trimmed “to permit cross-campus visibility.” Schools should also avoid “dense vegetation close to buildings, as it may screen various forms of illicit activity.” Instead, schools should plant “thorn-bearing and sharp-leaved plant species to create natural physical barriers to deter aggressors.” The report also recommends “hardening” campuses by “installing ballistic protective glass,” creating a single point of entry with “an entrapment area.”
Governor Hutchinson was the first director of the NRA’s School Shield program, which the NRA launched based on their debunked thinking that “the only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.” Created in the aftermath of the 2012 Sandy Hook shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, that killed 20 students and six adults, the NRA’s School Shield program aimed to stave off school shootings in the future. Or perhaps, as Legum suggests, it just aimed to raise money for the NRA under false pretenses.
While it’s been a decade since Hutchinson served as director of School Shield, his thinking doesn’t seem to have changed. At a pen and pad session with reporters last week, he said he’s willing to spend $50 million to “harden” Arkansas schools against violent attacks, but said addressing the gun problem is off the table. “Access to firearms in our society, that’s not going to change, whatever law we pass. The focus should be on school safety,” Hutchinson said.