The Stroudsburg (Pa.) School Board has voted 6-2 to reject a $4,730 National Rifle Association grant for new rifles for the rifle team.
The Pocono Record reports that the board's decision came after comments from those on both sides of the issue.
Board member Merlyn Clarke voiced concern about the NRA's opposition to legislation that would ban guns to people on terrorist watch lists or enact universal background checks for all gun license applicants.
“I’m not sure why we need to promote a gun culture that has nothing to do with our rifle club,” Clarke says.
Kate Ballard, a mother of a 13-year-old and 9-year-old, says she is “revolted” by the NRA’s refusal to entertain any form of gun control legislation and its promotion of divisiveness.
“I look our students in the eye and see the diversity here,” Ballard says. “I simply cannot condone funds from the NRA. We can do better in finding funding sources.”
Rifle team member Emily Dougherty asked the board to support the team by accepting the grant.
“This will ensure our team members can do more effectively what they love doing,” Dougherty says. “Students, who are interested in serving in our nation’s military, need good marksmanship skills in a safely controlled environment, which our rifle team provides. Other sports don’t provide an equal opportunity for both genders, but our rifle team does so for everyone.”
Carlena Bach of Stroudsburg says she grew up in a hunting family when pickup trucks with rifles in their gun racks were a common sight in school parking lots.
“I support our rifle team and believe in hunting and target practice, but I’m suspicious of the NRA,” Bach says. “What strings are attached to this offered funding? If we accept this grant, we’re really supporting gun manufacturers. What’s next? Arming our own teachers and school officers? Be very careful.”
Having co-sponsored gun safety legislation for local schools, State Rep. Maureen Madden says she supports the rifle team, but suggests finding funding sources other than the NRA.
“What happened to raising money through bake sales?,” Madden says. “We never took money from a lobbyist. Please consider that 93 percent of gun owners are neither NRA members nor supporters of the NRA’s policies. We have students organizing around this nation, crying out for their lives. Teachers don’t want to be armed or have metal detectors in their schools. They want sensible legislation. If we accept funding from a lobbyist, what will it lead to?”
U.S. Army Reservist Reincke says he grew up using rifles, but opposes the NRA grant.
“I didn’t know until tonight that our rifle team’s equipment was in such poor shape,” he says. “I want our board to remedy this, but not with funding from the NRA. It’s dirty money.”
Board member Michael Mignosi, who supported the grant, says a rifle team with outdated rifles is like a football team with outdated uniforms.
“So, we’re telling our rifle team they can’t have funding because we don’t like the politics of the donor of that funding?” he says. “The NRA has been sponsoring high school and college rifle competitions for years. They’re offering funding for equipment that would improve our rifle team’s shooting ability. I’m in awe that we’re politicizing this instead of accepting beneficial funding being offered with no strings attached.”
But Board member Tameko Patterson says the NRA grant “isn’t just dirty money, but blood money.”