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HomeUS NewsNRA promised school safety after Sandy Hook. Data reveals slim impact.

NRA promised school safety after Sandy Hook. Data reveals slim impact.

  • In wake of Sandy Hook, the NRA launched a school safety program
  • Despite lofty goals, School Shield is falling short of promises
  • Many of the schools that received money used it for non-firearm-related projects
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At a news conference the week after a gunman shot and killed 26 people – 20 of them children – in Sandy Hook, Connecticut, the voice of the nation’s gun lobby promised to protect schoolchildren with money, guns and gear.

Wayne LaPierre, the longtime chief executive of the National Rifle Association, blamed gun-free zones for the 2012 massacre and those before it. He called schools “utterly defenseless,” vulnerable to attacks by “monsters and predators.”

Now, a decade after LaPierre pledged the NRA’s financial support for its School Shield initiative, gun violence prevention groups say evidence shows the organization awarded requests at pennies on the dollar and the program has not made a dent in school violence.

Flowers lay next to the name of Charlotte Bacon, carved in the stone of a memorial dedicated to the victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, in Newtown, Conn., Sunday, Nov. 13, 2022. (AP Photo/Bryan Woolston)

Whereas LaPierre made headlines by promising millions to arm teachers, public records obtained by the group Everytown and analyzed by USA TODAY indicates that most of the money has gone to non-firearm-related expenses such as intercoms, fences and film to make windows bullet resistant.

And, Everytown says, the dozens of grants written around the nation collectively amounted to about $2 million – often coming in far under what districts requested. The total also is far less than what the gun rights group has spent on other initiatives, including a reported $130 million in legal fees from 2014 to 2020.

“The numbers prove that the School Shield program was first and foremost about protecting the NRA from bad press, rather than protecting American schoolchildren from mass shootings,” said John Feinblatt, president of Everytown for Gun Safety.

Records show that the NRA awarded the first three school grants between 2014 and 2017, totaling about $189,000. Then, after the 2018 school shooting in Parkland, Florida, spending ramped up.

Despite a spate of mass shootings, however, the program has been largely dormant since 2020 and the School Shield office was furloughed amid financial turmoil at the NRA. In August, the organization announced it would again be accepting grant applications.

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