A North Carolina school district has a new plan to combat school shooters this upcoming school year. It will stock every school with AR-15 rifles. Madison County Sheriff Buddy Harwood announced the plan in a Facebook post.
“God forbid anyone ever come to our schools to cause harm,” Harwood said. “But if they do come to my schools, I want my resource officers to have the ability to meet violence with violence.”
According to Sheriff Harwood, each of the six schools in the rural western North Carolina district will have one of the semiautomatic rifles.
The plan is supported by the school board and superintendent. Community donations are covering the cost of the guns, and the Madison County Board of Commissioners is buying safes to store the weapons on school grounds. The safes will also contain ammunition and breaching tools to be used on barricaded doors.
Sheriff Harwood said by stocking the schools with the rifles ahead of time, the resource officers won’t have to leave the building to retrieve a rifle in the event of an active shooter, which can save valuable time.
“I hate that we’ve come to a place in our nation where I’ve got to put a safe in our school, and lock that safe up for my deputies to be able to acquire an AR-15. But, we can shut it off and say it won’t happen in Madison County, but we never know,” Harwood said.
Dorothy Espelage is a professor at UNC Chapel Hill. She’s conducted decades of research on school safety and student well being.
“We’re going to have accidents with these guns,” Espelage told WLOS-TV. “Just the presence of a [school resource officer] increases violence in the schools. There’s more arrests of kids. Why is it that they have to have these AR-15’s? It doesn’t make any sense.”
Sheriff Harwood said the county’s school resource officers have been training with instructors from Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College.
Schools in Madison County will reopen on August 22.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.