Police in Gainesville, Georgia, are asking the school board to accept a proposal that would allow school resource officers in three schools to store assault rifles in the schools while on duty. Authorities say that it’s time to ante up what’s available for those officers in case of an emergency.
“The adversary has bigger, better weapons than what the officers carry in their day-to-day operations,” Jay Parrish, of the Gainesville Police Department, said.
Parrish, who helps with firearms training in the department, explained that the Glock handguns the school resource officers presently carry hold 16 rounds and can only accurately be fired up to about 75 feet.
“In some of these schools, we have 100 plus foot hallways,” Parrish said. “A handgun is just not affective in that area, whereas a rifle would be.”
Parrish said that the guns they want to bring in are M4s, which will double the number of rounds available to the officers and triple the distance at which it can accurately be fired.
The school resource officers at Gainesville High School, Gainesville Middle School and Woods Mill Academy already have M4s which are stored in their patrol vehicles while on duty. However, Parrish wants to bring additional M4s into the school buildings for quicker, easier access in case of an emergency.
“If we have an officer in the school and there is an intruder that needs to be addressed, we don’t want that officer to leave the school because then he may not have access back in,” Parrish said.
And of course, the rifles will be stored securely in a safe and only when the officers are on school grounds.
Nonetheless, Gainesville Schools Superintendent Merrianne Dyer said that some parents are concerned over whether or not the guns will be secure enough. She said that more assurance that the guns will be properly stored is needed, as well as further details on the program.
Those details will likely be provided at a school governance board meeting in October, when the proposed idea will be voted on. If the proposal is approved, the measure will go into effect immediately.
“Before Sandy Hook we just didn’t see it as a need,” Parrish said.
“What we’ve learned is that these things [school shootings] happen quickly and they happen unexpectedly and in places and locations where we can’t anticipate,” Dyer added.
Dyer also stated that the district has no plans to train teachers or administrators on how to use the rifles.
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