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NRA gave over $120K to Utah groups, schools in 2016; Weber County got the most

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Three Weber County organizations collectively received $33,000 in grant money from the National Rifle Association (NRA) Foundation in 2016, making Weber County the state’s biggest recipient of the NRA donations, according to an Associated Press analysis of NRA Foundation's public tax records.

The organizations were Weber County Government, the Trapper Trails Council BSA and the Utah Military Academy.

Following last month’s massacre at a high school in Parkland, Florida, a number of businesses and organizations across the nation have decided to cut ties with the NRA. The Associated Press reported that the teen who killed 17 people on Feb. 14 had been on a school rifle team that received NRA funding.

The NRA Foundation granted over $120,000 to government agencies, youth programs, public schools and other nonprofit organizations across Utah in 2016, according to the tax returns.

The graphs show which Utah organizations and schools have received donations from the NRA Foundation from 2010 to 2016.

Weber County Government received a grant worth more than $9,000 in 2016 for the purpose of “range development,” according to the tax returns.

The money went toward the installation of stationary shooting tables and sliding rifle support at the Weber County Sport Shooting Complex, according to the facility’s range master, Eric Jones.

“We’ll apply every year,” Jones said, noting the county-owned business started receiving grants from the NRA Foundation in 2015 to improve facilities and enhance safety.

The shooting facility received a nearly $8,000 grant last year for installing radiant heat at the 300-yard shooting range.

This year, the NRA gave them another $17,000, which was used to put in place security cameras and entry buzzers.

The county purchased the shooting range — then called "Swanson Tactical Training Center" — for $3.8 million back in 2014. The multipurpose facility has been used for various training exercises by local and federal law enforcement agencies and is open for public use as well.

Besides government agencies, other typical recipients include schools and youth programs.

The Utah Military Academy in Riverdale received a non-cash grant of more than $11,000 in 2016 for its general shooting program, according to the tax returns.

The grant came in the form of shooting mats, gloves, scopes and rifles that were used for air rifle shooting training, according to Kit Workman, the Commandant of Cadets at the Utah Military Academy.

Workman said the academy received grants from the NRA both in 2015 and 2016, and it plans to apply for the grant again later this year.

The academy, as well as many other youth programs across the nation, rely on the NRA grants, he added.

The Trapper Trails Council BSA in Ogden, a youth development organization, has also been a major recipient of NRA money in Weber County. It has received more than $30,000 over the past seven years from the NRA Foundation to acquire training materials and equipment for its shooting sports activities including archery, rifle shooting and shotgun shooting.

Public schools have accounted for a small share of NRA money over the years, but the grants have grown rapidly in recent years, according to the AP analysis.

Over the span of seven years, the NRA Foundation has given more than $7 million in grants to hundreds of U.S. schools, and nearly half of them have gone to the Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (JROTC) programs, like the rifle team the shooter in Florida was on.

These JROTC programs put students through a basic military curriculum and offer an array of small competitive clubs.

Ogden High School JROTC was among the recipients of NRA donations.

In 2015, the NRA gave Ogden High more than $7,600 worth of materials for its JROTC program for the purpose of “competitive shooting,” according to the tax returns.

The materials included shooting mats, spotting scopes with tripods and Crosman air rifles, according to Jer Bates with the Ogden School District.

Bates said in an email response, “The JROTC has not had specific discussion about whether or not any such support from the NRA would be considered in the future. However, the program has no existing plans for additional support from the NRA.”

Contact Reporter Sheila Wang at 801-625-4252 or swang@standard.net. Follow her on Facebook @JournalistSheilaW or on Twitter at @SheilaWang7.

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