In public schools, the NRA gets a boost from the Junior ROTC.

Author: Yuvi December 20, 2022 In public schools, the NRA gets a boost from the Junior ROTC.

Cape Coral, Fla. – Under the fluorescent lights of a high school gym, dozens of teens took turns firing air rifles at a series of bulls-eye targets, part of a shooting competition that attracted students from Florida Gulf Coast schools. Did.

The event was better produced than many high school competitions, with lights illuminating the target, scopes for spotting downrange and a heavy screen to keep pellets from straying, thanks to the help of a major sponsor Thanks: Charitable Branch of the National Rifle Association .

“A lot of the equipment you see behind me comes from NRA grants,” Brian Williams, a retired Army major who teaches in the Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps program at Mariner High School in Cape Coral, told the contestants.

That tip of the hat was no casual comment. To win NRA sponsorship, the record shows, military instructors leading JROTC marksmanship teams at public high schools have repeatedly promoted the organization in competitions and in newspapers, posting NRA banners in their schools or wearing uniforms worn by students. Pledged to add NRA logo to apparel. ,

In his pitch, Mr. Williams offered to provide student testimonials to the organization “to include supporting photos and storyboards showcasing the equipment and happy cadets.”

At a time when many districts are doing much to keep guns out of schools, JROTC has become one of the few programs on campuses that promotes weapons training.

According to tax records and other documents, the NRA has donated more than $5 million in money and equipment since 2015 to support competitive shooting programs in schools, one of several outside organizations that have provided funding to JROTC programs. Have done Some districts that receive NRA funding, such as Lee County, Fla. In the U.S., there are schools that automatically enroll students in JROTC classes in certain grades, or otherwise push students to take them, although participation in shooting teams is most often voluntary.

The organization supports JROTC programs by hosting shooting competitions, highlighting teams in its trade magazine, and awarding special badges to JROTC shooting competitors.

The programs, which use air rifles instead of live-fire weapons, are prevalent in many communities where target shooting and hunting are popular sporting activities, and parents are credited with instructing youth in handling guns safely. Is. But schools largely ban guns on campus, and shooting teams have at times raised concerns among teachers and students about the rise in school shootings and gun violence. Some districts have ended their JROTC marksmanship programs or have heated debates about how best to incorporate them into school life.

For the National Rifle Association, which has faced declining revenue and membership as well as growing legal and financial troubles, the promotional promises offered through JROTC programs found a uniquely credible venue — a new generation of potential members in public school. provide access to.

In a statement, a spokesperson for the NRA said the group is proud to fund shooting teams and that the NRA’s promotion of JROTC instructors was their choice, not a requirement for funding.

“The NRA Foundation proudly supports firearms education and training for a variety of deserving organizations,” said spokesman Andrew Arulanandam. “Grant recipients sometimes volunteer to fuel our efforts to bring awareness to the importance of firearms training, gun safety and shooting sports. We love these activities and the way they positively impact students, schools and communities across the country.” Well done, proud of it.

In their bid to receive an NRA grant for on-campus marksmanship training and competition, JROTC instructors have said the funding would expand the number of teens trained in the safe use of firearms and violate the Second Amendment, according to school district documents obtained by The New York Times. Will take it forward. The York Times responded to more than 100 records requests. Some instructors pledge to encourage cadets to join the NRA and have students volunteer to participate in NRA fund-raising events.

“Through this grant, we have the opportunity to engage at-risk students in shooting sports,” an instructor in Kentucky wrote in an application. “The NRA is a widely known and recognized entity in our community, and we look forward to furthering that reputation with a demonstration of commitment and excellence,” wrote another in California.

A JROTC instructor in Texas wrote that exposure to firearms in school “promotes positive attitudes toward Second Amendment rights for these future voters and their families.”

Promotional payback provided by JROTC instructors in exchange for funding has often been transactional. An instructor said that NRA banners and other JROTC facilities at competitions would constitute “advertising space” that would be smaller or larger depending on the amount of the NRA contribution. Others promised to recognize the organization online, on the radio or in local newspapers.

At the competition in Florida in April, students and their parents spoke highly of the marksmanship program and JROTC in general, describing how it improved the teens’ self-confidence and focus in school.

Elizabeth Vazquez, who was watching her daughter Erica from the bleachers, said she loved seeing her daughter giggle at the event.

“She’s enjoying it, she’s happy, so, as a parent, I’m going to support her,” Ms Vazquez said. “You know, I thought I was going to have a cheerleader or a dancer, but my baby girl shoots — that’s what she’s like — so, well, I’ll support her.”

The NRA has donated more than $150,000 in money and equipment since 2015 to support competitive shooting programs at Mariner High and other schools in Lee County on Florida’s west coast, part of $144 million it said it spent on youth shooting. had spent to promote the Games – in JROTC and other events – over the past two decades.

Many of the spectators at the JROTC event in Cape Coral wore shirts with pro-gun logos, including a variation on the “Don’t Trade on Me” flag that read, “Don’t Trade, NRA”.

Military recruiters stood up all day and quizzed students on the benefits of joining the armed forces, a major point of contention for parents and students, who objected to schools making JROTC enrollment mandatory or automatic for some students Is.

Michael Sloan, a senior vice commander at the local Veterans of Foreign Wars post, said he is proud to see how teens are learning how to effectively and safely handle weapons.

“A lot of people say a lot of things about American youth, but we are very, very proud to see all of you exercising your Second Amendment rights today,” he said as he addressed the students for the second day. Said the competition started. “We love your patriotism. And you hang in there. America is great, and you are part of what makes it great.”

But the presence of weapons through JROTC programs on campus has sometimes caused problems.

A high school in Durham, NC, went into lockdown after someone reported a man with a gun on campus, only for school officials to identify the man as a JROTC cadet practicing.

In Dover, Del., a JROTC program that wanted to add a marksman team ran into a problem: Team shooting would violate the city’s strict gun control code. The program managed to win changes to the city code that allowed cadets to train. The following year, the team won a grant of over $10,000 from the NRA Foundation.

Some students in Nashua, NH, protested when a JROTC program was implemented in 2019 to add a marksmanship program to campus. Paula Durant, who was a senior at the time, said that she and some of her classmates had argued that the school was considered a gun den. -The air rifles used by the Free Zone and JROTC program look real. She said the students came to the edge after the massacre a year ago in Parkland, Fla., where an alumnus and JROTC cadet wearing a JROTC program shirt killed 17 people in a shooting spree.

“There was a lot of concern about school shootings,” Ms. Durant said.

She asked school officials at a public meeting to move marksmanship training off campus, an idea the district eventually accepted. Afterwards, she said, she faced intense backlash online from people who accused her of being a coward; Some made such threatening comments, she said, that local police officers came to campus and assured her they were there to support her.

The school board in Broward County, Fla., where the Parkland shooting took place, decided after the 2018 massacre that it would no longer accept money from the NRA

Some teachers have also objected to shooting competitions and weapons training.

Deborah Teal, a longtime instructor at Santa Ana High School in Orange County, California, said she saw the program provide valuable support to students who might not otherwise be involved in school activities, but she was concerned about the emphasis on guns. Was worried. At a time when students were dealing with so much gun violence.

“The militarization of children, especially vulnerable children, bothers me,” Ms. Teal said, adding that some students at her former school had launched an unsuccessful petition to end the shootings program.

The program remains at the nearby Santiago High School, Garden Grove, where it has gained support.

Michael H., a JROTC instructor in Santiago. Maini wrote to the NRA Foundation this year to say that the marksmanship program had helped attract more students to JROTC and provided weapons training to underprivileged students who otherwise had no one to show them how. To handle weapons safely.

“Ultimately, we want to foster esprit de corps among cadets and the community by providing basic training in the handling and use of firearms, which prepares young men and women for careers in law enforcement, the Department of Corrections, and the military,” He wrote in an NRA funding application.

The issue of public schools receiving funding directly from the NRA Foundation has sometimes left districts struggling to navigate the optics.

Emails show the JROTC program at East River High School in Orlando, Fla., dealt with the headache of receiving and processing NRA funding through the school district in 2020 without attracting controversy. The school’s JROTC instructor, Steven Celeste, proposed to his colleagues a solution often used in other districts: sending the money through an institution that is not formally part of the school.

“We just have to make sure their grant money goes to the booster club fund and not the school fund … There is too much political backlash involved for us and the school,” he wrote.

Mr. Williams, a JROTC instructor in Cape Coral, said the school was willing to openly promote the NRA in its competitions in exchange for the money it received.

“The NRA Foundation, in particular, is probably the most important resource in JROTC for our instruments,” he said.

Mr Williams said the lack of objection from parents, students and teachers to the program is a reflection of how many lessons students take from marksmanship training, which goes far beyond shooting.

“We tell these kids all the time, ‘Hey, that’s really great if you’ve improved your scores, but we really want you to take away some of the values. We want you to have some of those qualities. Take away lessons that you can apply in real life,” he said. “Focus, concentration, self-discipline and self-control. That’s what a shooter takes away from marksmanship.

Author: Yuvi

My name is Yuvi, I work as Sub Editor at

20 December, 2022, 3:30 pm

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