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Armed teachers? NRA task force suggests voluntary program.

A task force commissioned by the NRA reported its findings Tuesday, including a proposal to train school personnel in firearms safety. 

By Staff writer / April 2, 2013

Former Rep. Asa Hutchinson of Arkansas, a consultant of the National Rifle Association, shows and discusses the findings and recommendations of the National School Shield Program at the National Press Club in Washington Tuesday.

Gary Cameron/Reuters

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Washington

A task force on school safety commissioned by the National Rifle Association raised the prospect Tuesday of arming school personnel – including teachers – after they have gone through comprehensive training.

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Such a program would be voluntary, but could be crucial to halting an “active shooter” in a school and could save lives, said former Congressman Asa Hutchinson, director of the NRA's National School Shield Task Force.   

“The key is reducing that response time,” said Mr. Hutchinson, speaking at a press conference at the National Press Club, where he unveiled a series of recommendations by the task force.

The “model training programs” the report recommends would be available to both “school resource officers” – police officers assigned to a school – and to school personnel, and would entail 40 to 60 hours of training.

The report’s release comes amid fierce debate on Capitol Hill over proposed federal gun legislation almost four months after the Newtown, Conn., elementary school massacre that jump-started national debate on firearms. President Obama heads to Colorado on Wednesday to call attention to new gun control measures enacted by that state, scene of two of the biggest mass shootings in US history.

Next Monday, the president goes to Connecticut for another event focused on guns. 

The prospects for federal legislation remain uncertain, as gun-friendly legislators appear to have beaten back efforts to renew a ban on military-style assault weapons, such as the one used by the Newtown shooter. A proposed ban on high-capacity ammunition magazines is also on the ropes. Now, analysts say, gun control advocates’ best hope may be for expanded background checks for gun buyers. The legislation also includes money devoted to school safety.

Hutchinson largely avoided discussing the federal legislative battle, instead focusing on measures that schools can take now to assess security and make improvements. He also presented a more congenial pro-gun face to the public, compared with NRA executive vice president Wayne LaPierre’s memorable appearance before reporters soon after Newtown.

Then, Mr. LaPierre struck an aggressive posture toward the media, taking no questions, and offering no hint of compromise on any aspect of gun ownership.

“The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun,” he said.

Hutchinson, in contrast, was less absolute. On Tuesday, for example, he made clear that the task force was not recommending that all teachers be armed.

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