The National Rifle Association has over the years drastically increased the funding to schools. According to the findings of an Associated Press analysis of their tax records, over 500 schools country wide have received more than $7.3 million from 2010 to 2016. This revelation comes amid heated national debate over gun control and violence in schools.
California is the largest beneficiary of the grants, receiving over $1million. Florida was a close second. While some states received dozens of grants, some states did not receive the NRA grants. Massachusetts, a state known for their strict gun laws, did not receive any grants.
The funds have gone to different school programs such as hunting safety courses, Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps, agriculture clubs and rifle teams. 80% of the grants funded equipment, training and other costs rather than cash. Equipment issued included shooting mats, eye protection, and paper targets. Most schools appreciate the grants because it subsidizes the programs and helps them stay competitive. It is therefore not surprising that very few schools were willing to give up the money.
Florida’s Broward County school district was the first to decline NRA money. Public schools in Denver also followed suit saying that they will not pursue the grants in future and they will decline some that were granted this year.
The $7 million in grants to schools is a small fraction when compared to the $61 million the National Rifle Association has dished out to local groups since 2010. This amount grew almost fourfold between the year 2010 and 2014. Some speculate that this is an effort by the NRA to recruit its next generation of members. Other than schools, other recipients of the grants include Boy Scout troops, private gun clubs and other programs associated with the youth.
After the 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut, NRA school grants rose sharply. This was due to a new grant program unrolled by NRA to help schools improve their safety. According to the tax analysis, the funding for these projects stopped in 2014.
The analysis also showed that almost half of the grants in 773 schools went to Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps programs. Students enrolled for these programs go through basic military curriculum. But, since very few students going through this program finally enlist in the military, the primary goal of these program is to teach skills such as discipline and leadership to the students. Students not only learn safety, but also how to be good citizens.
It is surprising that school board members in a few districts were not aware of the funding. After the Florida shooting, it is expected that school administrators will reconsider.
~ Ready to Fire News