Ladies and gentlemen, there is no national, one-size-fits-all solution to protecting our children. But do know this President zeroed out school emergency planning grants in last year's budget, and scrapped "Secure Our Schools" policing grants in next year's budget. With all the foreign aid, with all the money in the federal budget, we can’t afford to put a police officer in every school? Even if they did that, politicians have no business — and no authority — denying us the right, the ability, or the moral imperative to protect ourselves and our loved ones from harm.
Now, the National Rifle Association knows that there are millions of qualified active and retired police; active, reserve and retired military; security professionals; certified firefighters and rescue personnel; and an extraordinary corps of patriotic, trained qualified citizens to join with local school officials and police in devising a protection plan for every school. We can deploy them to protect our kids now. We can immediately make America's schools safer — relying on the brave men and women of America’s police force.
The budget of our local police departments are strained and resources are limited, but their dedication and courage are second to none and they can be deployed right now. I call on Congress today to act immediately, to appropriate whatever is necessary to put armed police officers in every school — and to do it now, to make sure that blanket of safety is in place when our children return to school in January.
Before Congress reconvenes, before we engage in any lengthy debate over legislation, regulation or anything else, as soon as our kids return to school after the holiday break, we need to have every single school in America immediately deploy a protection program proven to work — and by that I mean armed security.
Right now, today, every school in the United States should plan meetings with parents, school administrators, teachers and local authorities — and draw upon every resource available — to erect a cordon of protection around our kids right now. Every school will have a different solution based on its own unique situation. Every school in America needs to immediately identify, dedicate and deploy the resources necessary to put these security forces in place right now. And the National Rifle Association, as America's preeminent trainer of law enforcement and security personnel for the past 50 years, is ready, willing and uniquely qualified to help. Our training programs are the most advanced in the world. That expertise must be brought to bear to protect our schools and our children now. We did it for the nation's defense industries and military installations during World War II, and we'll do it for our schools today. The NRA is going to bring all of its knowledge, dedication and resources to develop a model National School Shield Emergency Response Program for every school that wants it. From armed security to building design and access control to information technology to student and teacher training, this multi-faceted program will be developed by the very best experts in their fields.
Former Congressman Asa Hutchinson will lead this effort as National Director of the National School Shield Program, with a budget provided by the NRA of whatever scope the task requires. His experience as a U.S. Attorney, Director of the Drug Enforcement Agency and Undersecretary of the Department of Homeland Security will give him the knowledge and expertise to hire the most knowledgeable and credentialed experts available anywhere, to get this program up and running from the first day forward.
If we truly cherish our kids more than our money or our celebrities, we must give them the greatest level of protection possible and the security that is only available with a properly trained — armed — good guy.
Under Asa’s leadership, our team of security experts will make this the best program in the world for protecting our children at school, and we will make that program available to every school in America free of charge.
That's a plan of action that can, and will, make a real, positiveand indisputable difference in the safety of our children — starting right now.
There'll be time for talk and debate later. This is the time, this is the day for decisive action. We can't wait for the next unspeakable crime to happen before we act.
We can't lose precious time debating legislation that won’t work. Wemustn't allow politics or personal prejudice to divide us. We must act now.
For the sake of the safety of every child in America, I call on every parent, every teacher, every school administrator and every law enforcement officer in this country to join us in the National School Shield Program and protect our children with the only line of positive defense that's tested and proven to work.
And now, to tell you more about the program, I'd like to introduce the head of that effort — a former U.S. congressman, former U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Arkansas and former administrator of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, the Honorable Asa Hutchinson.
Thank you, Wayne.
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 precious resource.
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 in between.
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 local level.
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.