NRA School Shield Program: Billion Dollar Security Bonanza?

| April 3, 2013
Police Gun

The NRA’s School Shield program, if carried out nationwide, could usher in a new billion dollar market in selling firearms, equipment, and weapons training and certification to schools, teachers, and staff.

Not to mention the security consulting fees and dollars spent “hardening” our public and private schools.

The 225-page National School Shield report was prepared by a 13-member task force, led by former Republican congressman Asa Hutchinson. The NRA states that it’s spent over $1 million backing the project, created in the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting in Newtown, Connecticut.

But as reported yesterday, four members of the National School Shield Program task force are employed by Phoenix RBT Solutions, a firm that provides ammunition, training and gear to security personnel. The fifth, Tony Lambraia, is the company’s CEO.

Three belong to Command Consulting Group, a company that sells security consulting and protective services to governments, companies, and individuals.

And Hutchinson himself is on the board of directors at Pinkerton Government Services (PGS), another major private security contractor.

PGS is itself a subsidiary of Securitas, a transnational corporation that provides a wide range of security services, including education security. Public school systems in Tulsa, Detroit, Washington DC and other places have contracted with Securitas for school security guard personnel.

And Pinkerton has a Florida-based program, the Pinkerton Training School, which offers a week-long security training class. One similar, in fact, to the “40-60 hours” of training the School Shield task force recommended for potential school resource officers.

Hutchinson also lobbied for Securitas while working for Venable LLC, a Washington DC law firm.

Guns In Schools

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, there are 98,817 public schools (total number of public, secondary, and combined schools) and 33,366 private schools. That’s 132,183 schools nationwide, as of data available for the 2009-2010 school year. And about 27 percent of schools in the United States already have armed or unarmed security officers.

After NRA Executive Vice-President Wayne LaPierre‘s December address advocating “good guys with guns” in schools, Matt O’Brien of The Atlantic estimated that putting armed guards in the 76,000 public schools that currently lack them would cost about $4 billion.

In January, Hutchinson estimated the cost of putting a resource officer in every school at $2 billion to $3 billion a year, a number he acknowledged would be hard to fund given today’s school budgets.

The School Shield task force, upon consideration, decided that the best way to reduce those costs would be to train and arm designated individuals and volunteers pulled from the ranks of existing school teachers and staff. They also proposed a model training program, 40-60 hours per person, at a cost of about $800 to $1,000.

Either way, that’s a lot of cops—or a potential gold mine for firearm and equipment manufacturers, private security contractors, and for those who train and certify them.

And those are just upfront costs. Who foots the bill for continued firearm training, practice, range time, and ammunition? For that matter, will volunteer or part-time SRO’s be certified? And will annual testing and recertification be required?

These questions are reinforced by the following quote from the School Shield’s “Best Practices” section:

“Therefore, an additional burden may be placed on a school or school district in ensuring that such an individual is highly trained to operate with a weapon in a school environment.

It is absolutely imperative that schools consult with subject matter experts, local law enforcement, and other stakeholders in ensuring that any individual carrying a weapon on school property have extensive initial and in-service training throughout their service.”

These are the words of the individuals and the companies who make their living selling the same “expert” consulting, and the same “extensive” training they believe schools are going to need before they can field “good guys with guns”.

Recommendations

The task force consists almost entirely of ex-police, military, government, and national security personnel.

No school administrators, principals, superintendents, teachers, psychologists, sociologists or other interested parties are listed as full members of the task force, though the report indicates that such were “consulted”.

Hence the recommendations: Arm teachers and staff. Train them extensively. Fortify schools. Reinforce doors. Man traps. And above all, get expert security help and opinions.

But will they work?

As mentioned above, about 27 percent of schools in the United States already have armed or unarmed security officers. Both Columbine High School and Virginia Tech had armed security guards, but in both cases they failed to prevent two deadly mass shootings.

Having armed guards or teachers in schools also raises the troubling possibility that a student could gain access to their firearms. Will schools need gun safes too? Add that to the expense column.

Security

Post 9/11, the security consulting and services market exploded in the United States.

Private security alone is a $66-billion-a-year industry.

Funding for homeland security has risen from $16 billion in FY2001 to $71.6 billion for FY2012. Adjusted for inflation, the United States has spent $635.9 billion on homeland security since FY2001.

And much of that money has been paid to consultants, contractors, businesses, and corporations who make a living off the American taxpayer.

In an January 4th op-ed for the Arkansas Democrat–Gazette, Hutchinson stated, “The training of armed personnel to protect our children should not be less than those who are trained to protect our airlines or even the president.”

“Not every school can afford the costs, and not all armed officers are equally trained,” he explained. “That is why it is so critical to create an effective federal, state and local sharing of costs, and, most importantly, to assure a high standard of training and certification.”

Federal, state and local sharing of costs. Guess who Hutchinson wants to foot the bill?

Given the membership and makeup of the task force, and considering who’s funding the effort, was there really any doubt as to what their conclusions and recommendations would be?

Safety

We want our schools and our children to be safe.

And if we must have guards, then it is in fact “imperative” that they be well trained and that they know how and when to act, and even when not to act.

And we want the opinions of experts in the field.

But we should also be wary of the recommendations of those who stand to directly profit from our actions, our decisions, and our fears.

And we need to ask ourselves: Just whose interests are being served?

Summary

It’s not just about more guns. The NRA’s School Shield program, if carried out nationwide, could usher in a new billion dollar market in selling firearms, equipment, and weapons training and certification to schools, teachers, and staff.

Nine of the thirteen named members of the task force, including its head, Asa Hutchinson, are employees or affiliated with organizations that sell security services and training.

Given the membership and makeup of the task force, and considering who’s funding the effort, was there really any doubt as to what their conclusions and recommendations would be?

http://www.gunfaq.org/2013/04/nra-school-shield-program-billion-dollar-security-bonanza/

References

  1. NRA School Safety Report Members Sell Security Gear And Training
  2. NRA School Shield Report Calls For More Guns In Schools
  3. National School Shield Report (PDF)
  4. NRA School Shield website
  5. Securitas Education Security
  6. Phoenix RBT Solutions
  7. Command Consulting Group
  8. MJ: RA Private Security Advocate Works for Private Security Company
  9. NRA school safety leader says effort is for real
  10. About the children: Kids’ safety at school paramount
  11. NRA-backed group wants gun training for school staff (politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com)
  12. Sandy Hook Dad Backs NRA School Plan (patdollard.com)

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