Local Schools React to NRA Proposal

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Former Arkansas Congressman Asa Hutchinson presented the National Rifle Association's suggestions to improve school safety in Washington D.C.

School officials are keeping a close eye on what's happening at the national level because if it became law it would have a direct affect.

The NRA’s 225 page study recommends schools to train and arm at least one staff member.

Chris Weeks, an architecture drafting teacher at Bentonville High School, said guns in school is a topic on the minds of many educators.

"I don't want our schools to be a fearful situation," Weeks said.

Hutchinson recommends extensive training for the armed school official.

"Forty to 60 hours that is totally comprehensive then that is an appropriate resource that a school should be able to utilize," Hutchinson said.

Weeks said training is the key point.

"I don't think 40 hours is nearly enough," Weeks said. "I know our resource officers over the years have hundreds of hours."

Hutchinson believes an armed school official is a way to keep kids safe but Weeks said he doesn't feel comfortable with more guns on campus.

"I'm a teacher. I don't want to possibly endanger a student," Weeks said.

Administrators in Fayetteville said they are looking into the NRA proposal.

"We're paying attention to everything that's out there and filtering through all of it," Alan Wilbourn said.

Spokesperson Alan Wilbourn said the Fayetteville School District works with police and has emergency drills in place. The district has four school resource officers.

"Every one of those plans has been carefully choreographed through the Fayetteville Police Department. In fact they have drills at many of our campuses," Wilbourn said.

Another component of the NRA proposal is having 40 to 60 hours of training for school resource officers.

Steve Vera is one of three resource officers in Bentonville Public Schools. He said he always welcomes training and additional officers.

"Hopefully there are federal grants that are going to come out that will help departments be able to put school resource officers in all the schools," Vera said.

Vera said he's received about 120 hours of training in his twelve years in the district.

"Nothing is a required training, but it is training that's available and we try to go to as many of those classes," Vera said.

Vera teaches an active shooter course each summer with student volunteers as hostages.

"We actually have students that are running out in the hallways or injured in the hallways to try to give our officers a realistic view of going into an active shooter scenario," Vera said.

The Bentonville School District will replace its fourth resource officer after he became a Detective and will add a fifth officer by the end of the school year.

The NRA also proposes an online tool schools can use to assess their safety as well as a pilot program that identifies students who are potential threats or need mental health help.

Hutchinson is one of three announced candidates for Arkansas governor. The others are Republican Curtis Coleman and Democrat Bill Halter.