The CEO of the National Rifle Association announced to reporters packed into an ornate ballroom in Washington’s Willard hotel that former Arkansas congressman W. Asa Hutchinson will lead the NRA’s model “National School Shield Emergency Response Program.”
The program is part of the association’s response to the Dec. 13 shooting massacre at the Sandy Hook School in Newtown, Conn., said Wayne LaPierre, who took over the day-to-day operations at the NRA in 1991.
After the NRA develops the model for protecting schools with an armed citizens, it will help any school implement it with training and funding support, he said.
LaPierre said after the Virginia Tech shooting he called for armed guards at schools and for that he was roundly criticized.
“But what if, when Adam Lanza started shooting his way into Sandy Hook Elementary School last Friday, he had been confronted by qualified, armed security?” he asked. “Will you at least admit it’s possible that 26 innocent lives might have been spared? Is that so abhorrent to you that you would rather continue to risk the alternative?”
In the mainstream media, the NRA obsessed with portrayed as the villain, no matter the circumstances, he said.
“Is the press and political class here in Washington so consumed by fear and hatred of the NRA and America’s gun owners that you’re willing to accept a world where real resistance to evil monsters is alone, unarmed school principal left to surrender her life to shield the children in her care,” he said.
Despite the negative headlines and stories LaPierre said he expects will distort his message, NRA is moving forward with a positive program to protect children, he said.
“The NRA is going to bring all of its knowledge, dedication and resources to develop a model National School Shield Emergency Response Program for every school that wants it,” he said.
“From armed security to building design and access control to information technology to student and teacher training, this multifaceted program will be developed by the very best experts in their fields,” he said.
“Hutchinson will lead this effort as National Director of the National School Shield Program, with a budget provided by the NRA of whatever scope the task requires,” LaPierre said. “His experience as a U.S. Attorney, director of the Drug Enforcement Agency and Undersecretary of the Department of Homeland Security will give him the knowledge and expertise to hire the most knowledgeable and credentialed experts available anywhere, to get this program up and running from the first day forward.”
Hutchinson said, “That is why I am grateful that the NRA has asked me to lead a team of security experts to assist our schools, parents and communities.”
The former congressman said he has already begun work on the program.
“I took this assignment on one condition: That my team of experts will be independent and will be guided solely by what are the best security solutions for the safety of our children while at school,” he said.
“Armed, trained, qualified school security personnel will be one element of that plan, but by no means the only element,” he said. “If a school decides for whatever reason that it doesn’t want or need armed security personnel, that of course is a decision to be made by parents at the local level.”
Hutchinson said he will not ask for government spending. Instead, he will count on volunteers stepping forward to protect schoolchildren.
“In my home state of Arkansas, my son was a volunteer with a local group called ‘Watchdog Dads,’ who volunteer their time at schools to patrol playgrounds and provide a measure of added security,” he said.
“Whether they’re retired police, retired military or rescue personnel, I think there are people in every community in this country, who would be happy to serve, if only someone asked them and gave them the training and certification to do so,” he said.
At the end of the press conference, David A. Keene, the president of the NRA said to reporters that he and his colleagues looked forward to answering questions after Christmas.