The NRA Nightmare: Mercs in our Schools

It was probably one of the weirdest and most absurd press conferences in Washington history. Today, a full week after the terrible massacre in Newtown, Connecticut, NRA President Wayne LaPierre called for an “armed security” force in every school in America, and named a former DHS Assistant Secretary, Asa Hutchinson, to push the initiative with the public and through Congress.

As Hutchinson, a former congressman from Arkansas, was speaking, I looked up his lobbying firm, The Hutchinson Group, which I remembered has numerous clients in national security. Sure enough, he’s got plenty – starting with Blackwater, the notorious private security firm, and SAIC, one of the largest and most important contractors in the Intelligence Industrial Complex. My Twitter post got a lot of attention.

“Well, we can see where this is going – a push for huge contracts for ‘armed security’ provided by Blackwater and SAIC,” I added a minute later.

That’s the nightmare scenario sketched out by these NRA crazies. Rather than deal with the elephant in the room – the easy access to assault weapons used in the last three mass shootings in Connecticut, Oregon and Colorado – the NRA wants to push Congress to fund a massive security force to guard our schools.

Here’s how Hutchinson sketched it out. He will:

lead a team of security experts to assist our schools, parents and communities…My team of experts will be independent and will be guided solely by what are the best security solutions for the safety of our children while at school…First, it would be based on a model security plan … a comprehensive strategy for school security based on the latest, most up-to-date technical information from the foremost experts in their ­fields.

This model security plan will serve as a template … a set of best practices, principles and guidelines that every school in America can tweak, if needed, and tailor to their own set of circumstances. Every school and community is different, but this model security plan will allow every school to choose among its  various components to develop a school safety strategy that ­ts their own unique situation, whether it’s a large urban school … a small rural school, or anything in-between.

But even if this was funded, who would be available to actually provide the security? Our police are already stressed and under-funded. Tens of thousands of armed security contractors already work in Iraq and Afghanistan, and will soon be heading to guard more embassies in Libya and elsewhere if the State Department has its way. Tens of thousands more are employed in private prisons and detention centers contracted to the U.S. government and many states.

So who will Hutchinson recommend? Well, Blackwater has had its problems, as the journalist Jeremy Scahill has been reporting for years; but under its latest cover name, Xe (oh, wait, that was the last one – the new one is Academi) could easily sneak by as a legitimate contractor. After all, it’s still working for State despite its sordid record in Iraq and Afghanistan. SAIC, too, could fit the bill, and it’s desperate for more work after losing a huge Pentagon contract recently to Lockheed Martin. Plus it’s lost a lot of credibility due to a massive corruption scandal in New York that cost the company $500 million in fines. Not to mention its role in the National Security Agency’s TRAILBLAZER privatization project, one of the largest failures in the history of U.S. intelligence.

There’s plenty of other companies to fit the bill. Many of them are represented by the National Association of Security Companies, which has probably already contacted Hutchinson to get the ball rolling.

But we know this in insanity. Arming the schools is not the answer to violence in the schools. Some form of gun control is on the way, and getting rid of these terribly effective assault weapons are the first step. As I tweeted a few days ago, “Guns don’t kill guns. Only people can kill guns.”

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