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NRA member on school armed guard idea: 'Don't think that's productive'

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A lifetime National Rifle Association member said Wednesday during a Capitol Hill hearing on gun violence that he doesn’t think putting an armed guard in every school — an idea being pushed by NRA leadership — is productive.

James Cummings, a hunter, sportsman and gun owner, spoke during a hearing before members of a Congressional Gun Violence Prevention Task Force, chaired by Rep. Mike Thompson, California Democrat. The hearing also featured testimony from representatives of the law enforcement, medical, and mental health communities.

Mr. Cummings’ construction company has built community centers for groups in Florida ranging from the Broward Center for the Homeless to several Boys and Girls Clubs. Having been part of the construction of schools as well, Mr. Cummings pointed out that there are often multiple entrances, leaving the open question of where exactly to place the security if one were to provide armed guards.

Mr. Cummings did say that safe haven for doctors and counselors must be provided.

“You can tell if there’s an inclination in a child that he’s going to do something possibly a little strange,” he said, adding that many counselors are afraid to report information that could end up in a national database for fear of being sued.

“You’ve got the professional,” he said. “It doesn’t do you any good to have them there if their report’s not going to be heard and documented and hopefully stops something like this from happening.”

Mr. Cummings also said he hopes that the current gun debate distinguishes between hunters and people who use so-called assault weapons for nefarious purposes.

“Gun violence demands that we discuss all aspects of the gun problem, not just the guns,” he said.

He estimated that there are still between three and four million “assault weapons” out in the public, presenting a conundrum for Congress if it is to pass any sort of ban on them.

“How are you going to get something off the market or legislate that it should come off the market when you already have four million of them out in the public?” he said.

Limiting magazine capacity and requiring more firearm dealer licenses could be part of the solution, Mr. Cummings said.

“If you want to stop the effectiveness of a killing machine, you’ve got to incapacitate it — the machine — to some degree,” he said. “The easiest way to do that, if you can’t get the AR-15 off the street, is to limit the clips … if you can’t get rid of the assault weapon, at least limit the efficiency of it by limiting the amount of rounds that can come out of it.”

“The people at gun shows — it looks like a flea market,” he continued. “If these people aren’t legitimate gun dealers, they sure look like it to me, because it’s not the Jim Cummings going in there and selling one gun, it’s the guy that’s got a whole table full of clips and guns and ammo that you can buy. Maybe you ought to say all these people that go to gun shows selling gun apparatuses and guns commercially should be a licensed, qualified firearms dealer. That would get rid of a lot.”

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