A North Carolina sheriff installed AR-15 rifles in all county public schools in order to better prepare deputies in the event of a mass shooting.
Madison County Sheriff Buddy Harwell first announced the new plan in a June Facebook video in the wake of the Uvalde, Texas, Robb Elementary school shooting, during which 19 children and two teachers were killed. Harwell said on Friday that a safe, AR-15 rifle, and other security tools had been installed in the county’s six public schools, the Asheville Citizen-Times reported.
“We were able to put an AR-15 rifle and safe in all of our schools in the county,” Harwood said. “We’ve also got breaching tools to go into those safes. We’ve got extra magazines with ammo in those safes.”
“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 said. “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.”
The sheriff’s office will hold a joint exercise with the school system on Aug. 17 to simulate a live emergency response.
In his June Facebook video, Harwell said every AR-15 will be stored in a gun safe placed in an undisclosed location at each school.
“Our community has always stood together to ensure the safety of our children. I have school resource officers who are certified deputy sheriffs in every school in our county. But we’ve sometimes seen that having just a deputy armed with a handgun isn’t enough to stop these animals,” Harwell said. “That’s why I’ve decided to arm all of my school resource officers with an AR-15 rifle, optics and accessories.”
According to Harwell, the effort is funded entirely by donations from community members. The school resource officers will be required to undergo “additional tactical training” to ensure their proficiency with the new weapons and accessories.
“God forbid that anyone ever come to our schools to cause harm, but if they do come to my school, I want my resource officers to have the ability to meet violence with violence,” he said. “My school resource officers will not have to wait, retreat, or have to leave the situation to get the weaponry needed to deal with that threat.”
Harwell asserted that Madison County needs to be prepared even though it is a small, rural county in Western North Carolina.
“Every day you turn on the TV and somebody’s been shot, somebody’s been stabbed, somebody’s been murdered, raped,” Harwell said. “We live in Western North Carolina, a rural county, but we’ve got to be prepared even in our rural counties for the enemy when he tries to come in and destroy our children.”
The sheriff said the children of Madison County are his top priority and vowed to do “whatever it takes to ensure their safety.”
“So to those who might be looking to terrorize or harm our Madison County kids: Don’t bring that foolishness to Madison County, because it won’t end well,” Harwell added.
The Madison County AR-15 initiative sharply contrasts the shocking police failure on display during the Robb Elementary school shooting. Last month, it was revealed that a Uvalde police officer armed with a rifle asked his superior for permission to shoot the Robb Elementary gunman before he entered the school and killed 19 children and two teachers.
New security footage also gave a more detailed look at the disastrous police response to the school shooting – it showed at least one officer used a hand sanitizer dispenser and looked at his phone while casually leaning against a wall before police attempted to stop the gunman.