North Carolina Sheriff Holds Schools With AR-15 Rifles

MARSHALL, NC –

When schools in a North Carolina county reopen later this month, new security measures will include stockpiling AR-15 rifles for school personnel officers to use in the event of an active shooter.

Spurred on by the Uvalde, Texas, elementary school shooting that killed 19 children and two teachers in May, school officials and Madison County Sheriff Buddy Harwood have placed one of the semiautomatic rifles in each of the county’s six schools. Each of the weapons will be locked in a safe, Harwood said.

North Carolina’s school district and the sheriff’s office team up to improve security after the Uvalde shooting revealed systemic errors and “extremely poor decision-making”, resulting in more than an hour of chaos before the gunman was finally confronted and killed by law enforcement officials, according to a report written by a Texas House of Representatives commission of inquiry.

“Those officers were in that building for so long and that suspect was able to infiltrate that building and injure and kill so many children,” Harwood told the Asheville Citizen Times. “I just want to make sure my delegates are prepared if that happens.”

The idea of ​​having AR-15s in schools doesn’t sit well with Dorothy Espelage, a UNC Chapel Hill professor in the School of Education who has spent decades studying and researching school safety and student wellbeing.

“What’s going to happen is that we’re going to have accidents with these weapons,” Espelage told WLOS-TV. The mere presence of an SRO increases violence in schools. There are more arrests of children. Why do they need these AR-15s? It does not make any sense.”

Madison County Schools Superintendent Will Hoffman said school administrators meet regularly with local law enforcement, including Harwood, to discuss the updated safety measures.

Harwood said the county’s school resources trained with instructors from Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College.

Harwood said the vaults where the AR-15s will be kept will also contain ammunition and barricaded door breakout tools.

“We’ll have the means to break through that door if we need to. I don’t want to have to run back to the car to grab an AR because that’s wasted time. Hopefully we never need it, but I want my boys to be as prepared as possible,” he said.

According to the Madison County Schools website, schools will reopen on August 22.

While the view of school workers potentially handling AR-15s in schools may be uncomfortable for some, Harwood said he believes it’s a necessary response.

“I hate that we’ve come to a place in our country where I have to put a safe in our schools and lock that safe so my agents can buy an AR-15. But we can shut it down and say it won’t happen in Madison County, but we never know,” Harwood said.

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