A public school district in North Carolina is taking security much more seriously following the mass shooting tragedy in Ulvade, Texas, in May, with an unconventional approach.
Madison County public schools will be placing AR-15-style semi-automatic rifles in each of its half-dozen schools beginning this school year in a bid to beef up security should an active shooter threat emerge.
According to Madison County Sheriff Buddy Harwood, the rifles are to be stored in secure safes at each of the county’s elementary, middle, and high schools along with breaching tools and ammunition. The rifles will be in place for law enforcement to access should an emergency arise, The Daily Wire reported Friday.
“We were able to put an AR-15 rifle and safe in all of our schools in the county,” Harwood told the Asheville Citizen-Times. “We’ve also got breaching tools to go into those safes. We’ve got extra magazines with ammo in those safes.
“Hopefully we’ll never need it, but I want my guys to be as prepared as prepared can be,” the sheriff added.
The Daily Wire noted further:
The Sheriff said that storing the breaching tools and AR-15s in school safes will help law enforcement act more quickly in the case of an emergency. Having the option to obtain a semi-automatic weapon in the instance of an active school shooter could save time and help law enforcement officers save lives, according to Harwood.
Harwood admitted that storing semi-automatic rifles in schools is not ideal, but said it’s necessary given the recent school shootings around the country.
“I want the parents of Madison County to know we’re going to take every measure necessary to ensure our kids are safe in this school system,” he said.
Reports noted that the county’s decision to place the rifles, ammo, and other gear in each county school is due in large part to police failures during the May 24 shootings at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, in which 19 4th-grade students were killed along with two adult teachers. Law enforcement personnel waited outside in the hallway for roughly 77 minutes after the shooter began his killing spree. One of the early excuses given by officers for hesitating was their arrival on-scene and being ill-equipped to engage the shooter, while requesting backup.
“Those officers were in that building for so long, and that suspect was able to infiltrate that building and injure and kill so many kids,” Harwood said of the Uvalde massacre. “I just want to make sure my deputies are prepared in the event that happens.”
Texas law enforcement officials ripped the delays in Uvalde and said it went against police training in such situations.
Also, a report commissioned by a Texas House committee was critical of the response as well.
“With hindsight we can say that Robb Elementary did not adequately prepare for the risk of an armed intruder on campus. The school’s five-foot tall exterior fence was inadequate to meaningfully impede an intruder. While the school had adopted security policies to lock exterior doors and internal classroom doors, there was a regrettable culture of noncompliance by school personnel who frequently propped doors open and deliberately circumvented locks,” it continues.
“At a minimum, school administrators and school district police tacitly condoned this behavior as they were aware of these unsafe practices and did not treat them as serious infractions requiring immediate correction. In fact, the school actually suggested circumventing the locks as a solution for the convenience of substitute teachers and others who lacked their own keys,” the committee found.