Former Congressman Asa Hutchinson
NRA's National School Shield Emergency
One of the first responsibilities I learned at Homeland Security was
the importance of protecting our nation’s critical infrastructure,
and there is nothing more critical to our nation’s well being than
our children’s safety. They are this country’s future and her most
We all understand that our children should be safe in school, but it is
also essential that the parents have confidence in that safety. As a
result of the tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut, that confidence has
been shattered. Assurance of school safety must be restored with a
sense of urgency.
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. 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.
Even though we are just starting this process, I envision this initiative
will have two key elements: First, it would be based on a model
security plan — a comprehensive strategy for school security based on
the latest, most up-to-date technical information from the foremost
experts in their fields.
This model security plan will serve as a template — a set of best
practices, principles and guidelines that every school in America can
tweak, if needed, and tailor to their own set of circumstances.
Every school and community is different, but this model security plan
will allow every school to choose among its various components to
develop a school safety strategy that fits their own unique situation,
whether it's a large urban school, a small rural school or anything
Armed, trained, qualified school security personnel will be one element
of that plan, but by no means the only element. 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
The second point I want to make is that this will be a program that
doesn't depend on massive funding from local authorities or the
federal government. Instead, it'll make use of local volunteers serving
in their own communities.
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.
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.
The National Rifle Association is the natural, obvious choice to sponsor
this program. Their gun safety, marksmanship and hunter education
programs have set the standard for well over a century. Over the past
25 years, their Eddie Eagle Gunsafe Program has taught over 26
million kids that real guns aren't toys and, today, child gun accidents
are at the lowest levels ever recorded.
School safety is a complex issue with no simple, single solution.
But I believe trained, qualified, armed security is one key component
among many that can provide the first line of deterrence as well as
the last line of defense. And I welcome the opportunity to serve in this
vital, potentially lifesaving effort.
Thank you very much.