A National Rifle Association-appointed official held a nationally televised briefing Tuesday to tout a 225-page report proposing armed guards in schools to make children safer.
After the Newtown, Conn., elementary school shootings, the NRA tapped Asa Hutchinson, a former congressman and Drug Enforcement Administration chief, to head up its new initiative on school safety. His recommendations fleshed out the NRA’s position that the way to prevent more school shootings is to make sure armed personnel are on campus.The event appeared to be an effort to distract from an upcoming debate in Congress about new laws to curb gun violence, such as universal background checks, which face long odds.
“We want the debate focused on school safety,” Hutchinson said. “We have not focused on the separate debate in Congress about, you know, firearms and how they should be dealt with.”
True to NRA form, Hutchinson refused to sympathize with a series of other proposals aimed at keeping guns away from criminals.
“In terms of background checks, we all want to make sure that criminals, those that have been declared with mental issues, that they not have access,” he said, while declining to support new legislation. “And that’s a discussion in the country that will go on.”
Hutchinson also dodged on high-capacity ammunition limits.
“Again, our — in reference to Newtown, what was the first thing the school did after the incident? They got armed officers there to protect the children,” he said. “It was very important for the confidence of the parents.”
Hutchinson also introduced one of those parents, Mark Mattioli, whose son died in the massacre and who applauded the ideas being presented.
Hutchinson ultimately characterized his proposals as the appropriate compromise that Congress should seek on gun violence. “I really hope that when they’re seeking common ground,” he said, “this will be the common ground.”
Read the NRA’s National School Shield Report in full: