NRA Gives $7M to Schools, Most Keep the Money

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The National Rifle Association has given more than $7 million to hundreds of U.S. schools in recent years, the Associated Press reports, and few have shown any indication that they’ll follow the lead of businesses that are cutting ties with the group after last month’s massacre at a Florida high school. Florida’s Broward County school district is believed to be the first to stop accepting NRA money after a gunman killed 17 people at one of its schools Feb. 14. The teen charged in the shooting had been on a school rifle team that received NRA funding. The Denver school system said Thursday, that it would turn down several NRA grants that were to be awarded this year. Officials in many other districts say they have no plans to back away.

The AP analysis of the NRA Foundation’s public tax records finds that about 500 schools received more than $7.3 million from 2010 through 2016, mostly through competitive grants meant to promote shooting sports. The grants have gone to a wide array of school programs, including the Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC), rifle teams, hunting safety courses and agriculture clubs. “Whatever I think of the NRA, they’re providing legitimate educational services,” said Billy Townsend, a school board member in Florida’s Polk County, whose JROTC programs received $33,000, primarily to buy air rifles. “If the NRA wanted to provide air rifles for our ROTC folks in the future, I wouldn’t have a problem with that.” The grants to schools are just a small share of the $61 million the NRA Foundation has given to a variety of local groups since 2010. They have grown rapidly, increasing nearly fourfold from 2010 to 2014 in what some opponents say is a thinly veiled attempt to recruit the next generation of NRA members.

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