Alachua County Student Programs Continue to Receive NRA Contributions

The sign outside the Alachua County Public Schools headquarters following the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting. (Photo by John Lievonen/FPR)

With the passing of the two-month mark after the Parkland shooting, where 17 students and faculty members of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School were murdered, the conversation of gun control has yet to stop.

Since the shooting, students across the United States have gathered to rally support for gun reform by walkouts, registering young adults to vote, and speaking to congressional representatives on Capitol grounds.

Locally, Alachua County has seen multiple peaceful walkouts and memorial services dedicated to those killed in the shooting and with efforts towards creating legislative action. But, a recent Gainesville Sun report found that six organizations in Alachua County have received thousands of dollars from the National Rifle Association Foundation, the charity arm of the notorious gun-rights group.

Between 2010 to 2016, the NRA donated $290,709 to six organizations including two high school Navy Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps programs and a youth development program run through the University of Florida.

Though the number may seem small compared to the $7.3 million that the NRA has donated to youth organizations across the United States, the amount places Alachua County in the top 20 Florida counties for NRA grant donations.

Alachua County School Board member Eileen Roy told the Sun, “If it was up to me, I would say no more from the NRA… I wouldn’t take any money or equipment from the NRA.”

Within the state of Florida, the only county to cease taking new further contributions from the NRA is Broward County, the site of the February shooting.

The suspect charged in the attack was a member of his high school’s JROTC air-rifle marksmanship team, which received grants from the NRA.

The district’s decision to stop accepting donations from the NRA comes as a drastic shift in position. Previously, the county was ranked third for NRA contributions in Florida at a county level.  

In the local donations,  Eastside and Gainesville high schools received non-cash grant donations totaling at $16,033 for their NJROTC programs. The two donations were given for “youth equipment”, but the School Board could not specifically identify what that meant for the two schools, according to the report.

The 4-H Foundation has received $263,042 over the past six years. Starting in 2012, the group received a $35,398 grant, the largest awarded by the NRA in that year. The youth development group, according to the Sun report, received archery and air rifle equipment from the NRA Foundation as well as other products through non-cash grants. The 4-H program is part of the UF IFAS Extension service.

The School Board of Alachua County has yet to have any formal discussion on whether they will follow suit of Broward County and stop the acceptance of NRA donations.

As the conversation of gun reform continues throughout the United States and changes occur from the federal level to the state level, due to the youth demographic’s efforts, there have been very few local governments or school boards that have made efforts to cut NRA donations.

Comments are closed.