Former Republican U.S. Rep. Asa Hutchinson, a potential GOP candidate for Arkansas Governor in 2014, appeared today (Dec. 21) at a National Rifle Association (NRA) press conference saying he will lead an initiative to study putting armed guards in schools.
Hutchinson appeared following remarks from NRA President Wayne LaPierre.
The press conference was largely in response to a renewed call for additional restrictions on guns in the wake of the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut that resulted in the deaths of 20 children and 8 adults.
“The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun,” said LaPierre, who defended gun rights and instead said focus should be on increasing security in schools. “Would you rather have your 9-11 call bring a good guy with a gun from a mile away or from a minute away?”
“With all the foreign aid the United States does, with all the money in the federal budget, can’t we afford to put a police officer in every single school? Even if they did that, politicians have no business and no authority denying us the right, the ability, and the moral imperative to protect ourselves and our loved ones from harm,” said LaPierre.
Following the remarks, Hutchinson was introduced as the national director of the National Model School Shield Program, which will be funded by the NRA.
In addition to serving as a Congressman representing Arkansas, Hutchinson has served as a United States attorney, director of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency, and undersecretary of the Department of Homeland Security. It is these qualifications that LaPeirre cited as the reasons for asking him to fill this role.
“We all understand that our children should be safe in school. But it is also essential that the parents understand and have confidence in that safety. As a result of the tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut, that confidence across this nation has been shattered. Assurance of school safety must be restored with a sense of urgency,” said Hutchinson. “That is why I’m grateful that the National Rifle Association has asked me to lead a team of security experts to assist our schools, parents, and our communities.”
Hutchinson said that the effort will have a goal to come up with “a comprehensive strategy for school security based upon the latest, most up-to-date technical information from the foremost experts in their fields,” while at the same time forming a program “that does not depend on massive funding from local authorities or the federal government.”
Hutchinson pointed toward volunteer-based programs, such as the Watchdog Dads program and Cops in Schools program created by President Clinton.
“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 certifications to do so,” said Hutchinson.
The announcement could have an impact on the Arkansas 2014 Governor’s race. Hutchinson has said he is considering running for Governor with an announcement expected in January.