The Madison County, North Carolina school system plans to put AR-15 rifles in emergency safes. This decision comes after the Uvalde, Texas, school shooting, which devastatingly left 19 children and two teachers dead.
There are six schools in Madison County; each school will have emergency safes as part of their proposal for increased security.
Sheriff Buddy Harwood told the Asheville Citizen-Times:
“We were able to put an AR-15 rifle and safes in all of our schools in the county … We’ve also got breaching tools to go into those safes. We’ve got extra magazines with ammo in those safes.”
Harwood added that in the event of a school shooting, he wants to “make sure my deputies are prepared.” He also spoke about the Uvalde incident, saying:
“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 … I do not want to have to run back out to the car to grab an AR, because that’s time lost. Hopefully we’ll never need it, but I want my guys to be as prepared as prepared can be.”
The safes will be at Madison Middle, Hot Springs Elementary, Bush Creek Elementary, Mars Hill Elementary, Madison Early College High, and Madison High.
Will Hoffman, the County School’s Superintendent, says they take school security seriously and are in constant contact with the police department and Sheriff Harwood.
“Our partnership with law enforcement is a critical part of our daily preparations. We have to be vigilant and prepared for any possibility at any time. Our students have to feel safe in order to be safe.”
“No organization can do this alone. That’s why strong community partnerships are integral to our safe school efforts, they are more important now than ever.”
Harwood also spoke directly to those who might have concerns about AR-15s being in school but noting that it would be safer.
“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. But, we can shut it off and say it won’t happen in Madison County, but we never know.”
Harwood also had a message for parents:
“I want the parents of Madison County to know we’re going to take every measure necessary to ensure our kids are safe in this school system. If my parents, as a whole, want me to stand at that door with that AR strapped around that officer’s neck, then I’m going to do whatever my parents want as a whole to keep our kids safe.”
If this strategy in Madison County works, it could be the way forward for many counties in the United States.