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After Columbine, the NRA panicked about its own image. Here’s how they could have improved school safety instead.

November 11, 2021

Earlier this week, a new report from NPR’s Tim Mak revealed the NRA’s internal deliberations immediately following the 1999 Columbine High School shooting and what to do about their annual convention set to be held just days later in nearby Denver. The article doesn’t mention NRA leaders discussing any steps they could take to improve school safety or reduce students’ access to guns, and in fact details the “defiant tone” the NRA took afterward. 

Had the NRA been less focused on their own public image, and instead used the moment to discuss how to improve school safety, perhaps we would have seen action on common-sense gun safety laws, one of which the NRA even briefly claimed to support in the immediate aftermath of the Columbine High School shooting: closing the gun show loophole. However, the NRA almost immediately went in the opposite direction on school safety. 

The NRA lobbied behind the scenes to prevent gun safety laws from passing, including  expanding background checks, a policy they initially publicly claimed to support. After mass shootings that have occurred since, the NRA has been quick to either avoid talking about any policy solutions or propose ideas that would make the problem worse.

Lawmakers and local leaders can buck the NRA’s dangerous agenda and take action on school safety by supporting eight measures to prevent mass shooting incidents and help end gun violence in American schools: 

These eight proven measures, which include a significant focus on secure firearm storage, were a part of a comprehensive school safety plan by Everytown Support Fund, the National Education Association, and the American Federation of Teachers. In October, Everytown for Gun Safety also shared recommendations with the Biden-Harris administration on taking action on school safety. An estimated 54 percent of gun owners don’t lock all of their guns securely and at least 5.4 million children in 2021 live in a home with at least one unlocked and loaded firearm, up from 4.6 million in 2015. According to research from the U.S. Secret Service, up to 80% of school shooters obtain their gun from their home or the home of relatives or friends. Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action volunteers have been advocating for schools to educate parents about the critical importance of secure firearm storage, and as a result, more than 1.5 million students across the country now live in school districts that do so.

To speak to an Everytown expert about what can be done to improve school safety, or the NRA’s history of opposing gun safety laws that only got worse after the 1999 Columbine High School mass shooting, please do not hesitate to reach out.

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