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The Newtown, Connecticut shooting massacre last month at Sandy Hook Elementary School that left 26 people dead, including 20 children has created a firestorm of debate about whether armed guards should be put in every school across the United States.
Leading the call has been the National Rifle Association.
On December 21, one week after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, National Rifle Association (NRA) vice-president Wayne LaPierre held a Washington D.C. press conference, announcing a proposal for what he dubbed "Operation School Shield," which would put a police officer in every public school across the nation.
"It's not just our duty to protect [our children], it's our right to protect them. 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," LaPierre said. "With all the money in the federal budget, can't we afford to put a police officer in every single school."
Obama was skeptical of the idea, prompting the NRA to release a video on Tuesday calling him an "elitist hypocrite" for maintaining Secret Service protection of his daughters while expressing skepticism for stationing armed guards or volunteers in schools.
On Wednesday Obama and Vice President Joe Biden introduced a package of measures aimed at reducing gun violence.
“The world has changed and it is demanding action, it is in this context that the president” asked me to come up gun-control recommendations," Biden said.
“While there is no law or set of laws that can prevent every senseless act of violence completely, no piece of legislation that will prevent every tragedy, every act of evil,” Obama said. “If there’s even one thing we can do to reduce this violence, if there’s even one life that can be saved, then we’ve got an obligation to try it.”
One of the executive orders signed by Obama is designed to make schools safer. The measures include a proposal to hire 1,000 school resource officers and placing mental health professionals in schools.
Resource officers are specially trained armed police officers that work in schools.
The White House explained, “Putting school resource officers and mental health professionals in schools can help prevent school crime and student-on-student violence.”
The 23 executive orders signed by Obama are listed below.
1. "Issue a presidential memorandum to require federal agencies to make relevant data available to the federal background check system."
2. "Address unnecessary legal barriers, particularly relating to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, that may prevent states from making information available to the background check system."
3. "Improve incentives for states to share information with the background check system."
4. "Direct the attorney general to review categories of individuals prohibited from having a gun to make sure dangerous people are not slipping through the cracks."
5. "Propose rulemaking to give law enforcement the ability to run a full background check on an individual before returning a seized gun."
6. "Publish a letter from ATF to federally licensed gun dealers providing guidance on how to run background checks for private sellers."
7. "Launch a national safe and responsible gun ownership campaign."
8. "Review safety standards for gun locks and gun safes (Consumer Product Safety Commission)."
9. "Issue a presidential Memorandum to require federal law enforcement to trace guns recovered in criminal investigations."
10. "Release a DOJ report analyzing information on lost and stolen guns and make it widely available to law enforcement."
11. "Nominate an ATF director."
12. "Provide law enforcement, first responders, and school officials with proper training for active shooter situations."
13. "Maximize enforcement efforts to prevent gun violence and prosecute gun crime."
14. "Issue a presidential memorandum directing the Centers for Disease Control to research the causes and prevention of gun violence."
15. "Direct the attorney general to issue a report on the availability and most effective use of new gun safety technologies and challenge the private sector to develop innovative technologies."
16. "Clarify that the Affordable Care Act does not prohibit doctors asking their patients about guns in their homes."
17. "Release a letter to health care providers clarifying that no federal law prohibits them from reporting threats of violence to law enforcement authorities."
18. "Provide incentives for schools to hire school resource officers."
19. "Develop model emergency response plans for schools, houses of worship and institutions of higher education."
20. "Release a letter to state health officials clarifying the scope of mental health services that Medicaid plans must cover."
21. "Finalize regulations clarifying essential health benefits and parity requirements within ACA exchanges."
22. "Commit to finalizing mental health parity regulations."
23. "Launch a national dialogue led by Secretaries Sebelius and Duncan on mental health."
Read the details of the proposals here. And watch Obama's speech below.
Information from Examiner was used in this report