Sheriff to arm North Carolina schools with AR-15s


MARSHALL, N.C. (NewsNation) — A North Carolina school system’s plan to have an AR-15 on every campus has some feeling anything but safe.

Right now, school resource officers with Madison County Schools are already armed, but the county sheriff wants each school building to have an AR-15 in a safe — just in case.

Sheriff Buddy Hardwood said the decision is in response to the Uvalde school shooting in Texas that left 19 students and two teachers at Robb Elementary dead.

“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,” Hardwood told the Asheville Citizen-Times. “If they do come to my school, I want the school resource officers to have the ability to meet violence with violence.”

In that attack — the third deadliest school shooting in U.S. history — an 18-year-old used an AR-15 style rifle to kill 21 people as armed officers failed to confront him. The response by local law enforcement has been heavily criticized by independent investigators, politicians and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott.

Madison County Schools resource officers already carry handguns. Hardwood’s hope is more firepower will prevent a possible school shooting.

“We’ve sometimes seen that … just having a deputy armed with a handgun isn’t enough to stop these animals,” he said. “That’s why I’ve decided to arm all of my school resource officers with AR-15 rifles, optics and accessories.”

That way, he believes, school resource officers will not have to “wait, retreat, or get the weaponry needed to deal with that threat.” 

Dr. David Thomas, a professor of forensic studies at Florida Gulf Coast University, said the idea of having an AR-15 in a safe on school grounds is concerning.

“The reasoning behind my concern is that if your shooter gets to that safe before you do, it’s a wash,” he said.

Hardwood said he met with local law enforcement for extra training over the summer.

The school system is scheduled to practice emergency response scenarios next week.

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