— WASHINGTON (AP) — Schools across the nation should train selected staff members to carry weapons and should each have at least one armed security officer to make students safer and allow a quicker response to an attack, the director of a National Rifle Association-sponsored study said Tuesday.
The task force that produced the report has developed a 40- to 60-hour training program that the study recommends making available to school staff members who are qualified and can pass background checks.
"The presence of an armed security personnel in a school adds a layer of security and diminishes the response time that is beneficial to the overall security," said former Republican former Rep. Asa Hutchinson of Arkansas, who led the study.
Asked if every school would be better off with an armed security officer, Hutchinson replied, "Yes," but acknowledged the decision would be made locally.
"Obviously we believe that they make a difference," he said.
Hutchinson said the security could be provided by trained staff members or by school resource officers — police officers assigned to schools that some districts already have.
Hutchinson made his remarks at a news conference at which the report was released. The event was held a week before the Senate plans to begin debating gun control legislation. The NRA opposes the main feature of the legislation — an expansion of background checks to cover nearly all gun purchases.
At the White House, meantime, press secretary Jay Carney said administration officials were working with lawmakers to try to reach a compromise on legislation that could be supported by both parties.
"The president has always recognized that this is something that would be a challenge but that in the wake of the horrific shootings in Newtown was an obligation of all of us to work on and try to get done," Carney said.