(WASHINGTON) — A freshman House Republican is introducing a bill that could bring the National Rifle Association’s proposal for more armed police officers guarding schools to fruition.
The Protect America’s Schools Act would require the government to spend an additional $30 million on Community Oriented Policing Services, specifically the Cops in Schools program, which has not been funded since FY 2005. That program’s increase would be offset by rescinding $30 million in unspent funds from the budget of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration [NOAA].
“The [Cops in Schools] program is specifically designed to give local law enforcement agencies additional resources to hire new police officers tasked with policing our schools and providing safety education,” Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., writes in an updated letter seeking cosponsors. “Congress cannot allow tragedies like Newtown to take place without taking action.”
The Cops in Schools program was first created by President Bill Clinton in 1998 with a $60 million grant for the Department of Justice’s Office of Community Oriented Policing Services. Before the program was cut in 2005, the government spent over $750 million to place more than 6,500 police officers in schools.
Meadows is expected to introduce the legislation by Friday afternoon, according to his communications director Lisa Boothe.
Shortly after the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre argued that the answer to gun violence in schools is an armed security force made up of trained volunteers to protect students at every school across the country.
“It’s not just our duty to protect [our children], it’s our right to protect them,” LaPierre said Dec. 21. “The NRA knows there are millions of qualified active and reserved police, active and reserve military, security professionals, rescue personnel, an extraordinary corps of qualified trained citizens to join with local school officials and police in devising a protection plan for every single school.”
Later that day, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi conceded that gun violence is a “complicated” issue, but she said the NRA’s proposal “is not a positive force” in the renewed debate over the nation’s gun laws.
“For the NRA and others to sort of shield themselves by saying it’s the mentally ill or something, and therefore we have to have more armed cops in the schools or more guns in the school — what are they — are they going to have [a gun] on the teacher’s desk?” Pelosi, D-Calif., exclaimed Dec. 21. “Wait a minute, man with a gun; I have it locked up someplace. Wait until I go get it. I mean, this — this just doesn’t make sense. We’ve got to reduce violence.”
Democrats unveiled the House task force’s plan to crack down on gun violence last week, calling on Congress to enact an assault weapons ban, outlaw high-capacity assault magazines, and put in place universal background checks for every firearm purchase. The task force recommended 15 steps to curb gun violence, but more armed police officers in schools was not among its proposals.
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