A Georgia school district may start to store AR-15-type rifles in safes inside schools to defend against shootings, Fox News reports.
This plan, proposed by the Gainesville Police Department would also allow each Gainesville City School to have a Colt 6920 M4 carbine rifle locked in the vehicles of school resource officers when the schools are not in session.
The safes would be accessible by fingerprint recognition, and only the school’s resource officer would have access to the rifle, said Police Chief Brian Kelly.
Gainesville police first approached the schools about the idea in April after the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre in Connecticut that left 20 children and six educators dead. The idea was once again discussed at a Sept. 3 work session of school board after an attempted school shooting at DeKalb County’s McNair Discovery Learning Academy in August.
The board decided to delay voting until they heard from the school governance councils. Gainesville Middle School is the only school to have voted as of right now, choosing to support the plan.
Parents and teachers from Gainesville High, Gainesville Middle and Wood’s Mill Academy met with city police Monday to ask questions about the proposal. The majority of the 15 those in attendance were teachers.
“It’s something that’s important in our community and our schools,” Gainesville High teacher Bryant Tench told the Gainesville Times. “We just want to be sure everyone is safe.”
The Wood’s Mill and Gainesville High councils expect to vote on the initiative during their October meetings.
After the Newtown School shooting the police department began evaluating local schools. The rifles would be able to engage targets from longer distances than the resource officers’ handguns, Kelly said.
“Now we have a good understanding for three big questions, which are: Is this going to make out kids safer? How much is it going to cost? And will these weapons be secure?” asked one parent during the meeting.
The cost is expected to be around $6,000 for one rifle and a safe for each campus, with the cost split by police and the school system.
Kelly said the police department’s main priority is “protection of life.” During the meeting he emphasized the safes would be accessible only by a school resource officer. The rifle would never be left on school property unattended.
Sources: Fox News, Gainesville Times