NEWTOWN, Conn. (CBSNewYork) — There are dueling solutions being talked about in the national gun debate.
Connecticut is considering some of the toughest new gun laws in the country, while the National Rifle Association has unveiled a plan to put more armed guards in American schools.
The NRA-sponsored, 225-page study recommended Tuesday that schools across the country train and arm at least one member of their staff.
Former Arkansas Republican Rep. Asa Hutchinson headed the study, which made eight recommendations, including online assessments that schools would make of their safety procedures.
“If you have the firearm on the presence of someone in the school, that can reduce the response time. It will save lives,” said Hutchinson.
Hutchinson said the NRA dropped an earlier recommendation that involved retired police officers and other volunteers being armed to provide school safety. The idea, he said, was opposed by school superintendents.
The NRA task force also recommended that schools have a mental health assessment system in place. The organization’s approach has the support of at least one parent who lost a child during the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
“This is recommendations for solutions — real solutions that will make our kids safer,” said Mark Mattioli, who lost his 6-year-old son, James, in the Newtown shooting.
The NRA announced its plan at a news conference just a day after Connecticut lawmakers struck a bipartisan deal to tighten gun laws and a week before the Senate begins debating the legislation, which is already being discussed in Hartford as if it’s a done deal.
“This is a good moment. We have a bi-partisan package that moves the ball down the field quite a distance and I think is already being touted as a demonstration to the rest of the country,” Gov. Dannell Malloy told reporters, including CBS 2’s Lou Young.
The measure would expand the assault weapons ban and the sale of large-capacity ammo magazines, requiring existing owners in Connecticut to register the ones they already own or face prosecution if caught.
Opponents of the measure are clearly upset.
“How ridiculous can you get? To charge a Class D felony, one year mandatory, for owning an object that has no function other than hold ammunition?” said Robert Crook of the Coalition for Connecticut Sportsmen.
The NRA opposes the main component of that bill, which would expand background checks to cover nearly all purchases of firearms.
Other highlights of the Connecticut bill include a ban on high-capacity magazines, a registry for owners of high-capacity magazines and an expansion of the state’s assault weapons ban.
But leaders of the NRA task force said the measures they recommend will make a significant difference in deterring another mass school shooting from occurring.
While some parents of the Sandy Hook shootings said it’s a step closer to reaching that goal, Newtown parents are not of one mind.
“If Mrs. Lanza hadn’t been able to purchase the guns, the likes of which she purchased, then Mr. Lanza, Adam, would not have been able to kill as many people as he did,” Gov. Malloy said.
Malloy said the NRA’s proposal is a matter for local school districts and not incompatible with the law he’s backing. The legislation should be in the hands of lawmakers on Wednesday and could be on the governor’s desk by nightfall, Young reported.
President Barack Obama said he plans to be in Connecticut next week in an attempt to push federal gun legislation through Congress.
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