MARSHALL, N.C.– When schools reopen in a North Carolina county later this month, new safety measures will include stockpiling AR-15 rifles for school resource officers to use in the event of an active shooter.
Spurred by the shooting at a Uvalde, Texas, elementary school in May that killed 19 children and two teachers, school officials and Madison County Sheriff Buddy Harwood planted one of the semi-automatic rifles in each of the county’s six schools. Each of the weapons will be locked in a safe, Harwood said.
The North Carolina school district and sheriff’s office are working together to improve safety after the Uvalde shooting uncovered systemic errors and “incredibly poor decision-making,” leading to more than an hour of chaos before the shooter was eventually arrested by the police Law enforcement officers were confronted and killed, according to a report written by a Texas House of Representatives investigative committee.
“These officers have been in this building for so long, and this suspect was able to infiltrate this building and injure and kill so many children,” Harwood told the Asheville Citizen Times. “I just want to make sure my deputies are prepared for whatever happens.”
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The idea of having AR-15s in schools doesn’t sit well with Dorothy Espelage, a UNC Chapel Hill professor at the School of Education, who has conducted decades of study and research into school safety and student well-being.
“What’s going to happen is we’re going to have accidents with these guns,” Espelage told WLOS-TV. The mere presence of an SRO increases violence in schools. There are more arrests of children. Why do they have to have this AR-15? It makes no sense.”
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Madison County Schools Superintendent Will Hoffman said school officials have met regularly with local law enforcement officials, including Harwood, to discuss updated safety measures.
Harwood said the county’s school resource officers trained with instructors from Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College.
Harwood said the safes storing the AR-15s will also contain ammunition and barricaded door breaching tools.
“We will have these tools to be able to break down this door if necessary. I don’t want to have to run back to the car to get an AR because that’s wasted time. Hopefully we’ll never need him, but I want my boys to be as prepared as possible,” he said.
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Schools are scheduled to reopen on August 22, according to the Madison County Schools website.
While the optics of school resource officials potentially handling AR-15s in schools may make some uncomfortable, Harwood said he believes it is a necessary response.
“I hate that we have come to a place in our nation where I have to put a safe in our schools and lock that safe so my MPs can purchase an AR-15. But we can close and say it’s not going to happen in Madison County, but we never know,” Harwood said.
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https://6abc.com/ar15-rifle-ar-15-school-shooting-guns-in-schools/12109361/ North Carolina sheriff stocking schools with AR15 rifles in event of school shooting