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NRA-funded panel seeks armed US school guards

Proposal backed by gun lobby touts armed security personnel as part of solution to end school violence.

Last Modified: 03 Apr 2013 03:07
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The proposal comes one week before the US Senate is set to debate new gun legislation [Reuters]

A task force funded by the National Rifle Association, the top US gun lobby, has unveiled a proposal to train armed security personnel in every school in the country.

The former Republican congressman who headed the study said at a news conference on Tuesday there should be at least one protector with a firearm for every school, saying it would speed responses to attacks.

"Obviously, we believe they will make a difference in the various layers that make up school safety," Asa Hutchinson said.

"This is not talking about all teachers. Teachers should teach," he added.

The report's release served as the gun-rights group's answer to improving school safety after the December school massacre in Connecticut.

The task force recommended 40 to 60 hours of training - to be developed and carried out by the NRA - for armed security officers or staff members in each school.

Hutchinson said his 12-member panel was fully independent. It included a former Secret Service head, police and security officers, and representatives from Phoenix RBT Solutions, a law enforcement training firm.

Proposal condemned

The task force also recommended security accords between schools and law enforcement, state safety standards and improved federal coordination for school safety.

It called for adoption of a model state law for armed school staffers and a programme to assess threats and support the mental health of students.

The report was swiftly condemned by gun control advocates.

"Once again, the NRA leadership is missing the point," the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence, a gun control group, said of the task force recommendations.

"The American public is calling for a comprehensive solution that not only addresses tragic school shootings, but also helps prevent the thousands of senseless gun deaths each year," the group added, touting expanded background checks for gun buyers and other gun control proposals in Congress.

Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, said the task force recommendations would fail to keep schools safe and urged Congress to pass new gun control laws.

The NRA commended Hutchinson for his work and said it would review the recommendations. The group said it was "determined to continue to use every asset at its disposal to help make America's children safe at school".

The NRA has vigorously fought gun control legislation and has touted armed security personnel as the solution to school violence.

US President Barack Obama called for new gun control measures after a gunman killed 20 children and six adults on December 14 at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut.

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