Former Rep. Asa Hutchinson, the head of the NRA’s “School Shield” task force, promised that a “special guest” would speak at the end of a press conference unveiling his recommendations on school safety.
That guest turned out to be Mark Mattoli, the father of James Mattoli, a 6-year old who was one of the 20 children killed in the elementary school massacre in Newtown, Conn., last December.
In his remarks, Mattoli praised the NRA’s recommendations, which include a sweeping plan to plan to train and arm security guards at every school in the nation. Under the plan, school resource officers carrying a gun in a school would undergo between 40-60 hours of training, as well as an extensive background check.
“This is a comprehensive program. I applaud everyone for their input,” Mattoli said. “I also want to say that I think politics should be set aside here. I hope this does not lead to name-calling. Therse are recommendations for solutions — real solutions to make our kids safer. That’s what we need.”
Mattoli said he was urging the recommendations because he didn’t want other parents to “go through what I’m going through.”
“I was on Google this morning — nine school shootings since Newtown,” he lamented.
Mattoli is one of many Newtown parents who have become visible in the debate over how to reduce the nation’s gun violence in the wake of the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Last week, several relatives of Newtown victims appeared with President Barack Obama, who is pushing for reforms opposed by the NRA.
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