The Douglas County School District in Colorado has opted to heavily arm its security personnel with military-grade semiautomatic rifles in order to protect students and teachers in case of a violent incident.
A total of $12,300 out of the school’s security budget were spent in the purchase of 10 assault rifles. The exact model and magazine size of the firearms were not informed to the public, but it is known that they are Bushmaster rifles, a close relative to the M-16 automatic rifle used by the military during the war in Vietnam.
Not police officers
The district’s security officers supposedly have law enforcement experience and they do already sport small handguns. They are expected to go through a 20-hour training in the sheriff’s department before they are able to wield the assault weapons. Richard Payne, the director of the Douglas County School District security, asserted that “we want to make sure they have the same tools as law enforcement.”
The controversy heated up as it was revealed that the decision was made by Payne himself, without public consultation with the school board or any voting of sorts. According to his statements, the assault rifles are to be stored inside the patrol cars while they are not in use. The decision proved to be of concern as surrounding district’s security officials carry either just a handgun or none at all. Many school board members found out about the purchase through Facebook or by watching the news, as there have been several complaints regarding the role of law enforcement versus the real obligations of a public school district.
On the other hand, school board president Meghann Silverthorn argued that she was indeed aware of the decision. Silverthorn stated that there have been discussions about improving the school’s security measures since last summer; supposedly, the purchase of the 10 assault rifles went unannounced because it costed less than $75,000.
The decision comes to fruition thanks to the terrifying increase in school shootings, as many schools have opted to arm its administrators and to teach them how to use firearms. This is not the first school in Colorado to arm its personnel, as several institutions in Colorado and Arizona have armed and trained volunteers. Teachers in Utah are able to obtain a concealed weapon permit in an effort of allowing to expand teacher’s options in defense of its students, besides just locking the classroom door and hiding behind the desks and chairs.
According to Payne, the decision to buy rifles came to be because of the size of the district, as it garnishes 900 square miles, comprised of 86 schools and 76,000 students.
Source: Washington Post