Skip to main content

The Only Thing That Stops a Guy with a Bad Policy is a Guy with a Good Policy: An Examination of the NRA’s “National School Shield” Proposal


With the recent tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, CT, the public and the government are looking for solutions to school violence. The National Rifle Association (NRA), a Second Amendment, pro-gun advocacy group, has proposed an “education and training emergency response program” called The National School Shield, which advocates the placement of armed security in schools. Although the program sounds provocative, serious questions complicate its plausibility, necessity, motive, and effectiveness. Furthermore, the potential policy and practical ramifications of encouraging armed security forces in U.S. schools are complex. The authors examined the proposal’s key elements from a public policy perspective and determined that the NRA program would be expensive in terms of both implementation and civil and/or criminal liability, would increase juvenile contact with the criminal justice system, would increase the potential for injuries and deaths from firearms, and would potentially only serve to increase profits for those invested in security industries. More potentially effective and safe policy alternatives are offered.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.


  1. Associated Press (2012, December 24). Israel rejects NRAs guns-in-schools claim. The Times of Israel. Retrieved from

  2. (2012, December 19). Sales of bulletproof backpacks soar after school shooting. CBS News. Retrieved from

  3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2010). Leading causes of death reports, national and regional, 1999-2010. Retrieved from

  4. Crews, G. & Crews, A. (2013). Mondays andGolden Rules”: Asking convicted school shooters about school violence. Conference paper presented at the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences, Dallas, TX. March 31, 2013.

  5. Crow, T. (2000). Crime prevention through environmental design (2nd ed.). Woburn: Butterworth-Heinemann.

    Google Scholar 

  6. Department of Justice (2012, October 24). Justice Department files lawsuit in Mississippi to protect the constitutional rights of children. Retrieved from

  7. Dewey, C. (2012, December 20). Since Newtown school shootings, sales of bulletproof kidsbackpacks soar. The Washington Post. Retrieved from

  8. Government Accountability Office (2010). Selected cases of public and private schools that hired or retained individuals with histories of sexual misconduct. GAO-11-200, K-12 Education. Retrieved from

  9. Gray, R. H. (2013, February 4). Obama and the NRAs school security plans are both rightand wrong. Campus Safety: Campus Command Post. Retrieved from

  10. Grossman, D. (2013). Untitled keynote address to the West Virginia Safe Schools Summit, Charleston, WV. February 6, 2013.

  11. Gubrecht, J. (2012, December 17). What really makes schools safer? Retrieved from

  12. Halbig, W. (2008, January 1). Architects must participate in school safety and security audits. Campus Safe: School Safety. Retrieved from

  13. Hendry, E. R. (2013, January 17). Survey: Majority of teachers dont want guns in Fairfax schools. McLean Patch. Retrieved from

  14. Huffington Post (2013, January 15). Guns in schools: Firearms already allowed in 18 states with few restrictions. Retrieved from

  15. Hutchinson, A. (2012a). The National School Shield: NRA Education and Training Emergency Response Program [Press conference]. Washington, D.C.: National Rifle Association.

    Google Scholar 

  16. Hutchinson, A. (2012, December 23). ‘This Weektranscript: Asa Hutchinson, Sen. Johnny Isakson and Sen. Amy Klobucher. ABC This Week. Retrieved from

  17. Jennings, W. G., Khey, D. N., Maskaly, J., & Donner, C. M. (2011). Evaluating the relationship between law enforcement and school security measures and violent crime in schools. Journal of Police Crisis Negotiations, 11, 109–124.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  18. Kelly, S. (2011, December 27). Confessions of a private security contractor. Retrieved from

  19. Lang, L. (2005). No bullies on board: Putting the brakes on school bus bullying. American Public Health Association: School Health Education and Services. Retrieved from

  20. LaPierre, W. (2012). The National School Shield: NRA Education and Training Emergency Response Program. [Press conference]. Washington, D.C: National Rifle Association.

    Google Scholar 

  21. Lohman, J., & Shepard, A. (2006). School security technologies. OLR Research Report. Hartford, CT: State Department of Education.

    Google Scholar 

  22. McCann, R. (2010, August 19). 19 security officers arrested in 9 days! Private Officer News Network. Retrieved from

  23. McGreevy, P. (2013, February 1). California voters dont want armed teachers on campus, survey says. Los Angeles Times: PolitiCal. Retrieved from

  24. McKinley, Jr., J.C. (2008). In Texas school, teachers carry books and guns. The New York Times. Retrieved from

  25. Moore, D. (2012, December 28). Does the NRA have a point? Armed guards in schools have helped curb drug problem. New York Daily News. Retrieved from

  26. Murphy, T. (2013, January 8). NRA private security advocate works for private security company. Mother Jones. Retrieved from

  27. National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. (2012). Understanding school violence: Fact sheet. Atlanta: Centers for Disease Control and Injury Prevention.

    Google Scholar 

  28. National School Safety and Security Services (2013). Arming teachers and school staff with guns. Retrieved from

  29. Neuman, S. (2012, March 16). Violence in schools: How big a problem is it? National Public Radio: Education. Retrieved from

  30. Newman, K. (2004). Rampage: The social roots of school shootings. New York: Basic Books.

    Google Scholar 

  31. O’Brien, M. (2012, December 18). How much would it cost to put armed guards at every public school. The Atlantic. Retrieved from

  32. Perry, T. (2001, October 30). Shooter in school rampage hangs himself in jail. Los Angeles Times. Retrieved from

  33. Private Officer News Network (2013). Press Release, 2012 Private Security Injury-Death Report. Retrieved from

  34. Rich, M. (2012, December 21). School officials look again at security measures once dismissed. The New York Times. Retrieved from

  35. Robers, S., Zhang, J., Truman, J., & Synder, T.D. (2012). Indicators of school crime and safety, 2011. National Center for Education Statistics, U.S. Department of Education, and Bureau of Justice Statistics, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice. Washington, D.C. Retrieved from

  36. Shen, A. (2013). The dangers of putting more armed guards in schools. ThinkProgress. Retrieved from

  37. Skiba, R. (2013, January 26). Is putting armed guards in school a good idea? No. Retrieved from

  38. Snyder, T. D., & Dillow, S. A. (2012). Digest of Education Statistics: 2011 (NCES 2012–001). Washington, D.C: National Center for Education Statistics, Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education.

    Google Scholar 

  39. Sullivan, S. (2012, December 21). NRAs Wayne LaPierre: Putarmed police officersin every school. The Washington Post. Retrieved from

  40. Thomas, J.R. (2013, January 28). Poll: Teachers oppose carrying guns on campus. The CT Mirror. Retrieved from

  41. Zagorski, E. (2012, December 25). NRA suggestions for armed guards in schools gets mixed reviews locally. Baraboo New Republic. Retrieved from

Download references

Author information



Corresponding author

Correspondence to Gordon A. Crews.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Crews, G.A., Crews, A.D. & Burton, C.E. The Only Thing That Stops a Guy with a Bad Policy is a Guy with a Good Policy: An Examination of the NRA’s “National School Shield” Proposal. Am J Crim Just 38, 183–199 (2013).

Download citation


  • Public policy
  • School violence
  • Second Amendment
  • Firearms
  • Private security
  • Civil liability
  • Criminal liability
  • Juvenile justice
  • NRA
  • National School Shield