‘Absolute madness’: North Carolina sheriff wants to arm school officers with assault rifles | North Carolina

Proponents of gun reform have called a North Carolina sheriff’s decision to arm his school resource officers with assault rifles on campus — in addition to their handguns — “absolute insanity.” service fist.

Madison County Sheriff Buddy Harwood said he felt compelled to act in hopes of preventing another massacre, like the one at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, in May , which killed 19 students and two teachers.

The “systemic failures” of law enforcement, according to a report on the uncovered killings, included a long delay in the heavily armed officers confronting the shooter, who was firing a high-powered AR-15-style assault rifle.

“Just having a deputy armed with a handgun isn’t enough to stop these animals,” Harwood said in a video statement he posted on Facebook in June.

“My School Resource Officers will not have to wait, retreat or leave the situation to obtain the weapons necessary to deal with this threat.”

A subsequent report by WLOS News claimed that Harwood received “mostly positive feedbackfrom the public for his stance, which will see the military-style weapons locked away in undisclosed locations in each of the county’s three elementary schools, one middle school and two high schools.

But opponents have accused the sheriff of sacrificing safety to serve the interests of the gun lobby.

“I think this is absolute madness. It won’t save a single child, or stop a single unknown and potential future act of violence,” said Fred Guttenberg, whose 14-year-old daughter Jaime was featured. among 17 killed in Parkland, Florida in February 2018 in the country’s deadliest high school shooting.

“However, it will immediately help sell more guns and make this sheriff more popular with the gun lobby with whom he hopes to be a champion,” added Guttenberg, a prominent gun safety advocate and senior adviser to Bradythe gun control campaign group.

Nationally, there has been a heated debate about increasing campus security versus emphasizing gun control measures as the most effective way to address gun violence perpetrated in schools. schools.

In the aftermath of the Parkland mass shooting, Florida explored both avenues, initially enacting sweeping reforms that included raising the minimum age to purchase a gun from 18 to 21, a move that was immediately challenged by the National Rifle Association (NRA).

More recently, however, the state’s school safety measures have focused on things like mental health and improving campus safety rather than restricting access to firearms.

Reformers argue that tougher gun laws, not further militarization of educational premises, would be the most effective solution.

“The increase in school shootings across the country should be affecting all of us, but arming school resource officers with AR-15s will only make our children less safe,” Brady President Kris Brown said at the Guardian.

“There is no evidence that an officer armed with an AR-15 is more likely to stop an active shooter. An AR-15 is almost three times more powerful than a typical handgun [and] we have already seen cases of school resource officers unintentionally discharging their weapons.

“At Highland Ranch, Colorado, a security guard’s sidearm shot through a wall and injured two students. If that weapon had been an AR-15, there could have been even more casualties.

Brown said Sheriff Harwood’s approach was “misguided and dangerous.”

“[It] could have deadly consequences. Our future generations deserve evidence-based solutions to keep them safe in the classroom, solutions like gun laws that save lives.

In June, Joe Biden signed the most sweeping gun reform package in decades, which included tougher background checks and tougher “red flag” laws to take guns away from those considered dangerous.

In Uvalde, as in Parkland, authorities failed or ignored several warning signs indicating that teenage shooters were becoming a threat.

“Lives will be saved,” Biden said at the White House signing ceremony, though the president acknowledged that the bipartisan compromise bill “doesn’t do everything I want…I know it does.” there is still a lot of work to do.”

He did not respond to his stated desire to ban access to assault weapons to the general public.

In North Carolina, meanwhile, activists blame politicians’ reluctance to act for pushing Harwood to adopt a policy of placing assault-style weapons closer to students.

“It is troubling that the dismal failure of state lawmakers to pass common-sense gun safety laws has forced schools to even consider such dangerous and militaristic measures,” said Lee Ann Kelley, a volunteer with the North Carolina chapter of the campaign group Moms Demand Action.

“There is a worrying lack of detail on training, storage and safety guardrails associated with this policy.

“Instead of further militarizing schools and exacerbating the harm to students of color who are already negatively affected by the presence of [armed] responsible for school resources, policy makers should strive to implement policies that will actually prevent children from having guns and keep our schools safe,” she added.

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