SANTA FE — Following the lead of Florida’s Broward County Public Schools, Santa Fe Public Schools today will consider turning down what school board President Steve Carrillo called “blood money” from the National Rifle Association’s fundraising wing.
Carrillo asked for an action item to be placed on tonight’s agenda for “Non-Acceptance of National Rifle Association (NRA) Grants.” The Broward County school district passed a similar measure after a gunman killed 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Feb. 14.
The Denver school district leaders also have said recently that their district will no longer pursue NRA grants and will turn down some that have already been awarded this year.
For at least the past several years, the NRA Foundation has provided SFPS with $4,000 worth of equipment — including air guns, ammunition, targets and other equipment — for the ROTC program at Santa Fe High School. Last month, a member of the school’s Navy Junior Officers’ Training Corps took first place at the 2018 All-Service National JROTC Championships shooting competition in Camp Perry, Ohio.
Carrillo said he stands 100 percent behind the Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps program, but not the NRA.
“The NRA is an organization that supports one thing and one thing only: the manufacture and sale of firearms,” he said, adding that the NRA’s stance on stricter background checks of gun purchasers, gun safety, and preventing guns from getting into the wrong hands is sorely lacking.
“We’re not taking a stand against any particular weapons, the Second Amendment, or anything of that nature. It has just one purpose, to not take their money, because of what they stand for.”
Carrillo said he would rather see a local community entity become a long-term funding source for the ROTC program.
School board member Rudy Garcia said Monday he wasn’t sure how he’d vote. But he had a several concerns about the proposal. “My primary concern is that the actual costs will be covered some way, some how,” he said.
He said he also hoped the board’s discussion wouldn’t get into a Constitutional debate about guns, which he said wasn’t the school board’s role. He said he believes the $4,000 provided to the high school’s ROTC program each year doesn’t come from the NRA itself. “My understanding is that the funds come from the Friends of the NRA, a local organization made up of local people. The money is raised within the community,” he said.
The Associated Press last month released findings of an analysis it conducted that indicated about 500 schools nationwide received more than $7.3 million in NRA funding from 2010 through 2016. Most of it went toward grants meant to promote shooting sports. It also says that reports from the NRA show that the NRA Foundation raises funds through local Friends of the NRA chapters.