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The National Rifle Association announced Monday that it has awarded over $600,000 in grants to support school security projects in 23 states, organized under the organization’s School Shield program.

The 54 grants go to both public and private schools and include funds for infrastructure enhancements and renovation, access control and visitor management systems, security cameras, security tints for windows, improved communications systems, emergency medicals kits, perimeter fencing, and life-saving training.

The NRA School Shield program was launched in the wake of the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting.

“The NRA is proud to be at a forefront of providing meaningful solutions to safeguard our nation’s schools. Protecting our most precious resource — our children — with substantive measures that work should be the top priority for all Americans,” said NRA President Oliver North, who praised the generosity of the organization’s membership.

“Thanks to NRA members who care about protecting our schoolchildren, NRA School Shield assistance is offered free of charge. No other political group, media conglomerate or the Hollywood crowd has ever offered anything like this,” Mr. North wrote in a recent NRA blog.

The program is indeed funded by members, individual donors and other sources through the NRA Foundation, at a time when many school systems struggle to find funds for classroom supplies, daytime student meals and other basic needs.

‘Our grant program is a critical piece of the puzzle when it comes to making our schools more secure and protecting our children,” said program director Sheila Brantley. “With our grant program, schools in need have access to the funding necessary to make meaningful improvements.”

The School Shield program clearly states that it’s singular mission is “to protect children. It also notes that on school security is a “complex issue with no simple, single solution.”

The NRA clearly answers the frequent question about arming school personnel.

“Does the NRA School Shield support armed school personnel to protect students? The NRA believes every option should be considered when it comes to protecting our children,” notes an extensive question/answer section at the School Shield website. “When a threat occurs, a quick and timely response by law enforcement professionals is what everyone hopes for. However, in these situations – when time is clearly of the essence — we strongly believe that trained school personnel can also serve a vital role. As the first to face the threat, they can lead and implement protocols designed to save lives.”

The philosophy is winning support from law enforcement.

“For those not familiar with NRA School Shield, let me pull back the curtain for a moment on the most comprehensive and cost effective way to initiate both law enforcement and school officials on making their campuses a difficult target for criminals,” wrote Eric Kaiser, chief of the Jourdanton, Texas, police department in a public endorsement. “NRA School Shield doesn’t reinvent the wheel. What those at the NRA have done is take various concepts that have been proven to work and fused them together into a holistic approach to protecting our kids and school staff.

NRA School Shield took the best practices for hardening a school campus, reacting to violent incidents and mitigating the aftermath and produced an easy to understand, real-world system that any school can implement,” he said.

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