Headline: Local schools analyzing NRA safety recommendations, Firearms group raises funds for teacher training

by Chad D. Baus

The Middletown Journal is reporting that Ohio schools are analyzing the results of a recently-released $1 million, 225-page study on school safety funded by the NRA.

From the article:

Schools should train selected staff members to carry weapons and should each have at least one armed security officer to make students safer and allow a quicker response to an attack, the director of a National Rifle Association-sponsored study said Tuesday.

Republican former Rep. Asa Hutchinson of Arkansas made the remarks as a task force he headed released its report, which included a 40- to 60-hour training program for school staff members who are qualified and can pass background checks.

Local school officials said they are still analyzing the NRA's recommendations, but most said they were concentrating on making school entrances and procedures more secure and working with local law enforcement on ways to boost security.

A spokesman for the non-profit Buckeye Firearms Association, which is launching teacher and staff firearms training programs in Ohio, said more schools are at least considering that option, however.

"The presence of an armed security personnel in a school adds a layer of security and diminishes the response time that is beneficial to the overall security," said Hutchinson.

Asked if every school would be better off with an armed security officer, Hutchinson replied, "Yes," but acknowledged the decision would be made locally.

"Obviously we believe that they make a difference," he said.

Hutchinson said the security could be provided by trained staff members or by school resource officers — police officers assigned to schools that some districts already have.

According to the article, the study drew immediate opposition from the American Federation of Teachers.

"Today's NRA proposal is a cruel hoax that will fail to keep our children and schools safe," AFT President Randi Weingarten is quoted as saying. "It is simply designed to assist gun manufacturers."

Weingarten failed to explain how advocating more of the "safety" measures they had in place at Sandy Hook would help save children's lives, or the lives of AFT members.

The article goes on to offer quotes from some local school officials and law enforcement, and then concludes:

Warren County resident Joe Eaton, southwest Ohio chair of the Buckeye Firearms group, believes opposition to gun training for teachers and school staff is declining.

"More schools are showing a willingness to try new approaches, not just return the the knee-jerk reaction of the past that focused on restricting the ownership of firearms. That's a positive step," he said.

"The NRA program dovetails nicely with our educational initiatives. About 400 teachers from across Ohio attended our seminar on how to prepare for and prevent violence in the schools. Twenty-four teachers attended our first three-day Tactical Defense Institute and we've now raised funds to train 75 more."

In Brookfield Twp., OH, one school district and police chief are already voicing its support for the National School Shield funding.

From WFMJ (NBC Youngstown):

School superintendent Tim Saxton has been helping educate kids for 23 years and says he never thought a day would come he would be in favor of hiring an armed school resource officer or having trained staff who volunteer to do the same.

However, he says that day has arrived.

"I'd rather have trained officer and individual and weapon between asailant and the general student population than desk or phone or chair," Saxton says.

He believes the National School Shield program, just like the locked doors, can help act as another layer of defense. Saxton tells us the school board has already started looking at critical aspects that could help protect children.

...Liberty Police Chief Richard Tisone says he has no problem with the plan, and says it's an unfortunate reaction to the times we live in considering crimes that have stolen innocent children's lives, like in Newtown, Connecticuit and other school shootings.

"Given the average shooting takes about 20 minutes from start to finish, and that's not enough time for police to get there, by the time they are there the damage has already been done," Tisone says.

...Several teachers unions are denouncing the recommendations. However, Saxton, as well as several other superintendent, say banning guns from school campuses isn't working.

"Even for myself, I plan on taking the training this summer," Saxton says.

Chad D. Baus is the Buckeye Firearms Association Vice Chairman.

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