MADISON COUNTY, N.C. — A school district in western North Carolina is making AR-15s available on all of its campuses for school resource officers, ABC affiliate WLOS reported.
The semi-automatic rifles will be locked in safes, Madison County Sheriff Buddy Harwood said.
Harwood said the county board of commissioners supports the move to beef up security and will provide funds for the safes.
“Having a deputy just armed with a handgun isn’t enough to stop these animals,” he said. Harwood made the announcement on his Facebook page.
“That’s why I’ve decided to arm all of my school resource officers with AR-15 rifle optics and accessories,” the sheriff said.
Harwood said SROs will undergo additional hours of training.
Madison County Superintendent Will Hoffman said he and the board support having AR-15s in the schools.
“The board of education, the county commission and the Madison County sheriff have worked together to fund highly trained school resource officers in each of our schools,” Hoffman said in a statement. “As superintendent of schools, my highest priority is the safety and welfare of our students and staff.”
A UNC Chapel Hill professor who studies trends in education questions the security measure.
“It’s called hardening of the schools and what’s going to happen is, we’re going to have accidents with these guns,” said Dorothy Espelage, UNC School of Education. Espelage said she has not heard of another school district in the state that has made the same move. “I thought it was a joke,” the professor said. “I really thought that this was some fake news.” Espelage said she has mixed opinions.
“I would prefer to have the children safe but then anyone you don’t know could get hold of an AR-15,” she said.
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