The Fontana Unified School District Police Department is refusing to leave students unprotected and has purchased 14 AR-15 semi-automatic rifles in response to a number of recent shootings in the U.S., several occurring at schools.
Superintendent Cali Olsen-Binks approved the purchase of the rifles, which are reportedly being stored in a locked safe intended for responding police officers during a shooting or attack, according to CBS Los Angeles.
Fontana Police Chief Rodney Jones said it’s “unfortunate” that the school district had to resort to drastic measures, but added that “it’s the best message we can send to anybody that thinks to harm our children.”
“The message we’re sending is…not here, not now, we’re prepared for you. And if you seek to harm our children, we will neutralize that threat and you will most likely be killed,” he said.
Mayor Acquanetta Warren also supported the decision and said “our police officers need to be equipped.”
“Everyone wants children safe. At this time, we as a community, we have to come together and find other ways. But in the interim, our police officers need to be equipped,” she said.
But not everyone is on board with the decision. School board member Sophia Green says students will not be any safer with the extra guns on campus. In fact, she says it could encourage killers to come with “something even bigger or better.”
“If a person who has the intention of coming on campus to kill… knows we have the AR-15s…They will come prepared,” she said.
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Green said school officials, who held three public safety meetings about violence on campus, never even mentioned that they bought the weapons.
“They did have meetings, but at no point (did anyone say), ‘Semi-automatic guns will be bought,’ ‘We have semi-automatic guns,’ or ‘Semi-automatic guns are being stored on school property,’” she said.
Anna Conklin, a child development specialist, also opposed storing the guns on school grounds. She told KCAL9′s Dave Bryan that a counseling program would be a better way to address violence on campus.
“Children aren’t born with a gun in their hand and vengeance in their mind. They aren’t necessarily going to grow into being a killer. We, as a society, need to address why children are growing up to commit these acts as teens and adults. I don’t see how adding more weapons on a campus is addressing that,” Conklin said.
Jones, the police chief, explained that other school districts are also turning to semi-automatic rifles to protect the children in their schools.
“As far as the percentage of school police departments that have them…we’re seeing a growing trend,” he said. “Unfortunately, we’re seeing a growing trend where they have to do this. It’s a sad thing for society that we have to have this type of fire power in our schools, but we can’t ignore that this is the society that we live in.”
Featured image via AP