It’s been the NRA’s official position since the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012. The next year, the NRA released the National School Shield plan, a 225-page report calling for armed guards in every school. As an alternative to save money, the report recommended that schools arm teachers and other staff.
Following Parkland, NRA spokeswoman Dana Loesch said at a CNN event that “150 schools across the country have implemented” the recommendations of the plan.
It doesn’t appear that the NRA is training teachers to use guns though. Instead, the organization offered training to law enforcement and school officials on safety measures like lockdown procedures, evacuation plans, and adding lights to parking lots. (The NRA did not respond to requests for comment.)
About 120 schools in 22 school districts across the country have participated in the NRA-backed training program, The Daily Beast found, and officials from eight districts said while the program was useful, it did not provide firearms training for staff.
Though two school districts in Ohio said they permitted teachers to carry guns without NRA help after Sandy Hook.
“I don’t think the tragedy is that we’re armed, it’s that we have to do that to our students,” said Wes Hairston, superintendent of the school district in Rock Hill, Ohio.
Hairston said that the vetting process for training armed teachers is tedious and involves months of initial target practice and yearly recertifications.
Superintendent Jeff Staggs of Newcomerstown, Ohio, said the district passed a measure to arm teachers after parents approached him following Sandy Hook. Staggs said that his rural Appalachian district cannot afford a resource officer.
Officials from both schools with armed teachers said the NRA program focused on observing the school grounds and did not give staff members firearms training.
The three other Ohio school officials said the training came to their schools in October 2017, as part of a partnership between the NRA and the attorney general’s office.
James Brady, superintendent of Fayetteville-Perry schools, told The Daily Beast he liked the training but could not implement some of the recommendations, such as switching the security cameras from analog to digital. “We don’t have the funds in a small rural district—it’s not cheap,” he said.
In Gallipolis City, Ohio, school safety supervisor Troy Johnson liked the training. Johnson, the district’s only security official, said the schools have “dire financial situations,” so they cannot afford resource officers.
In Oregon, Glide School District Resource Officer Justin Weise said the training encouraged input from students and staff members. Weise, who said he is armed at work, participated in the training in September 2017 and said the schools do not have armed teachers.
In Pennsylvania, Middle Bucks Institute of Technology Administrator Kathryn Strouse said the training recommended more security cameras and a better way to evacuate children at the school’s daycare in case of an active shooter.
And in Clark Fork, Idaho, a town with a population less than 600, the high school principal Phil Kemink said the training centered around members of law enforcement and his district did not receive any recommendations for school safety.
In 2013, Kemink’s school district considered giving teachers guns, but only 14 percent of staff members agreed with the proposal, Idaho State Journal reported.
When it comes to putting more guns in schools after mass shootings, some administrators are not convinced.
“Schools were designed to house students,” said Brady, the Ohio superintendent, “they weren’t built as a correctional facility.”
—with additional reporting by Tatyana Bellamy Walker