On December 21, just a week after the tragic shootings that rocked Newtown, Conn., NRA leaders addressed the nation with impassioned appeals for enhanced school safety measures and offers to bankroll such programs. Officials for the powerful gun lobby also called on Congress to allocate funds to place armed police officers in every U.S. school. The proposal was met with harsh criticism. LaPierre then came under fire for proclaiming that "the only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun."
But Thorn Havershabe, head of the San Narciso County NRA chapter, called LaPierre "the only hero in America that day. The only man who cared deeply enough to offer honest assessments and real, final solutions."
Now it would seem the NRA is putting its money where its mouth is. On Friday, LaPierre announced the launch of "Grammar School Gauntlet," an NRA-funded program that sponsors the training, arming and licensing of elementary school hall monitors.
"Even the weapons are provided at no cost," Havershabe added.
Hall monitors are typically chosen because they have demonstrated responsibility or are so bullied that teachers believe the vaunted position, with its added authority, will instill confidence and empower them to end their abuse.
Although duties vary between institutions, hall monitors generally validate hall passes for students who are outside their classrooms during lesson times, maintain orderly conduct in the corridors, prevent running or rowdy behavior, and help enforce punctuality for students heading to class.
"But that's all they do," Havershabe pointed out. "A mad gunman isn't going to curb his behavior or show a hall pass because some nerdy punching bag with an armband asked him to. We need to toughen these kids up. Give them guns. Teach them to defend themselves -- and their peers. Like the Second Amendment says, a well regulated militia is necessary to the security of a free state."
Havershabe initially expressed disappointment in the teachers who opposed arming themselves, but now believes the backlash was a blessing in disguise.
"I realized it was for the best," he revealed. "Past a certain age, most adults dwell on ticking clocks, on their health, on planning out their golden years. Young kids, they don't have a sense of their own mortality. Death isn't real to them. They're the ideal soldiers in this new war. I mean, that's why we drag them into military service so young."
Grammar School Gauntlet provides hall monitors with comprehensive courses in Krav Maga and other martial arts, classes in responsible gun ownership and safety, and marksmanship training at police shooting ranges. Hall monitors also receive a broad selection of semi-automatic handguns with ammunition. At the conclusion of the program, NRA mentors prepare students for the written and practical exams needed to obtain concealed weapons permits.
Several school districts, however, voiced grave doubts and strong concerns about the Grammar School Gauntlet program.
"In a lot of cases, we find that hall monitors let the extra privileges and sense of power go to their heads," one superintendent said. "Especially the shy kids who get bullied a lot. The hall monitor position can create monsters. Now imagine if those monsters were packing heat."
"Name one time in American history when a bunch of bullied, unpopular, overly sensitive kids got hold of guns and shot up their own schools," he demanded.
School officials also questioned how the NRA planned to license children under the age of 18 to carry weapons.
LaPierre smiled and replied, "That's easy -- we just have Congress lower the legal age."
(c) 2013. See disclaimers.