Some schools in the US are stocking up on AR-15 rifles to be used to tackle a gunman – but critics are worried the measure will lead to more incidents.
The North Carolina school district and sheriff’s office are working together to improve security – with one of the semi-automatic rifles being placed in each of Madison County’s six schools.
Opponents have warned that “it doesn’t make any sense”.
Dorothy Espelage, a UNC Chapel Hill professor in the School of Education, who has conducted decades of study and research on school safety, told WLOS-TV: “Why is it that they have to have these AR-15s? It doesn’t make any sense.
“What’s going to happen is we’re going to have accidents with these guns.”
The introduction of the weapons is said to be a reaction to the school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, in May that left 19 children and two teachers dead.
Buddy Harwood, the Madison County sheriff, said each of the rifles will be locked inside school safes, which will also hold ammunition and breaching tools for barricaded doors.
“I hate that we’ve come to a place in our nation where I’ve got to put a safe in our schools, and lock that safe up for my deputies to be able to acquire an AR-15,” Mr Harwood said.
“But, we can shut it off and say it won’t happen in Madison County, but we never know.
“Hopefully we’ll never need it, but I want my guys to be as prepared as prepared can be.”
He added the county’s school resource officers have been training with instructors from Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College.
Shooting revealed systemic failures
The Uvalde shooting revealed systemic failures and “egregiously poor decision-making”, resulting in more than an hour of chaos before the gunman was finally confronted and killed by law enforcement, according to a report written by an investigative committee from the Texas House of Representatives.
“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,” Mr Harwood told the Asheville Citizen Times.
“I just want to make sure my deputies are prepared in the event that happens.”