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NRA Has Given $5M To School Weapons Training Programs

Dozens of teenagers in Cape Coral, Fl., took turns firing air rifles at bull's-eye targets, part of a marksmanship competition that drew students from schools all along the Florida Gulf Coast. The event was better outfitted than many high school competitions, with lights illuminating the targets, scopes for spotting downrange and a heavy curtain to keep pellets from going astray, thanks to the help of tje charitable arm of the National Rifle Association. “A lot of the equipment that you see behind me comes from NRA grants,” said Bryan Williams, a retired Army major who teaches in the Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps program. To win NRA sponsorships, records show, military instructors who lead JROTC marksmanship teams at public high schools have repeatedly promised to promote the organization at competitions and in newsletters, post NRA banners at their schools or add the NRA logo to apparel worn by students, reports the New York Times.

At a time when many districts are trying to keep guns out of schools, JROTC has become one of the few programs on campuses that promote weapons training. The NRA has donated more than $5 million in money and equipment since 2015 to support competitive shooting programs at schools. Some districts that have received NRA funding, such as the one in Lee County, Fl., include schools that automatically enroll students in JROTC classes in some grades, though participation on the marksmanship teams is most often voluntary. The programs, which use air rifles rather than live-fire weapons, are prevalent in many communities where marksmanship and hunting are popular sporting activities, and parents have credited the instruction with teaching young people to handle guns safely. Schools largely prohibit guns on campus, and the marksmanship teams have at times alarmed teachers and students concerned about school shootings and a rise in gun violence.


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