NRA gives $828K to Utah groups, including $47K to schools
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — The National Rifle Association gave nearly $47,000 in materials to Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps at four Utah high schools and $178,000 to local Boy Scouts of America in recent years, according to an Associated Press analysis.
The AP review of the NRA Foundation’s public tax records finds that those grants were part of $828,500 in cash and non-cash grants given to Utah organizations from 2010 through 2016, mostly through competitive grants meant to promote shooting sports.
The state received an average of $118,400 a year in that span, with a high of $155,700 in 2014. Utah’s total NRA funding was about middle of the pack compared other states, the data shows.
None of the schools or Boy Scouts councils have any current plans to follow the lead of businesses that are cutting ties with the group following last month’s massacre at a Florida high school. At least two school districts in other states have severed ties with the NRA grant program: Florida’s Broward County school district and Denver Public Schools.
Nationally, the NRA gave about $61 million to a variety of local groups, including more than $7.3 million to about 500 schools. Boy Scout troops and councils received $4 million nationally.
The four Utah high schools that receive the funds are East High School in Salt Lake City; Clearfield High School in Davis County; Ogden High School; and Independence High School in Provo.
Ogden’s JROTC received $7,600 in materials in 2015, which included shooting mats, spotting scopes with tripods and air rifles, said Ogden School District spokesman Jer Bates.
He said there aren’t currently any discussions to end the affiliation with the NRA program, but added that there aren’t any requests for more funding at this time in the district.
The Salt Lake City School District board hasn’t discussed the program either, in part because East High School’s JROTC program was discontinued after the 2014-2015 school year, said spokeswoman Yandary Chatwin.
East received $9,200 in 2012 in non-cash grant, which usually come in the form of equipment, ammunition, supplies and other expenses directly paid for by the NRA.
Independence High School in Provo was given nearly $7,000 in a non-cash grant in 2016. Provo School District spokesman Caleb Price said the district board hasn’t discussed the NRA program and doesn’t have any plans to do so at upcoming meetings.
Clearfield received $23,000 in 2012 and 2014. Davis School District didn’t immediately comment.
The NRA says its grant program was started in 1992 and raises money through local Friends of NRA chapters. It says half the proceeds from local fundraisers go to local grants and half goes to the national organization. Besides schools, other typical recipients include Boy Scouts, 4-H groups and private gun clubs. Overall, about half the grants go to programs directed at youths.
The Utah National Parks Council of the Boy Scouts, the largest in the nation with 85,400 youth in central and southern Utah as of 2016, received $74,000. The council didn’t immediately return a phone call and email about the program.
The Trapper Trails Council in northern Utah received $31,500. The organization didn’t immediately return a phone call and email about the program.
The Great Salt Lake Council of the Boy Scouts received a total of $72,000 in grants, some of which was used to buy shotguns for shooting ranges at camps where boys are taught to safely use firearms, said council executive Mark Griffin.
Griffin said the program hasn’t come up in discussion with his board, but he predicted it would soon. He said he hasn’t received any guidance from national Boy Scouts of America officials either.
“The Boy Scouts seem to be pretty deliberate in their decisions,” Griffin said. “I don’t know where we’re going with this.”