Why More Universities Are Arming Security Officers with Rifles

More than 100 add semi-automatic rifles for campus security.

Police car

Security officers on college campuses no longer simply walk around to keep an eye out for suspicious activities.  Times are quite different now.

In response to violent incidents over the past few years, many universities have ramped up their security to include rifles. An increasing number of college security officers are now armed with semi-automatic rifles. They are now a standard part of their arsenal due to the rise in potential violence on campuses across the nation.

You won’t see the weapons strapped to security officers as you walk around campuses, though. They are usually in cruisers or at the headquarters. Most schools won’t admit their security officers are using them. The secrecy is important, as to not worry students, parents, and the staff. However, when the need arises, they have the weapon needed to react effectively.

According to a recent article on Fox News, at least 100 colleges in the United States have security officers that carry semi-automatic rifles. Some of these include Northeastern University in Boston, University of Maryland and Florida State.

The article reports that the federal government has a record for 91 campuses with police using rifles throughout the nation. These totals may not be wholly accurate, as police departments can purchase rifles and other weapons directly rather than through the government.

The Associated Press attempted to gather more information on the number of colleges that are using rifles by asking for a list of their guns, but most of them refused to provide that information. Their reason was reporting that information might put the campus’s safety at risk.

Proponents of the bigger firepower say college security officers are encountering situations in which a handgun is ineffective. They also have a longer range and greater accuracy when compared to handguns.

To be able to use them, security officers need to complete weapons proficiency training annually. The FBI and U.S. Justice Department must conduct trainings like this to ensure university security are fully equipped with the strategies they need.

Some in campus leadership and security forces have argued that they need to match the power of an attacker in  order to keep students safe. Security officers want them because a handgun vs. a rifle doesn’t stand a chance.

Many towns and cities also experience a conflict between city law enforcement  and university security. The boundaries between the city and campus are often unclear, and the types of situations that require city or university staff can become dangerous.

There is inevitable argument from student and staff groups on campus that see these rifles as a militarization fo the college experience. Many universities rely heavily on donors and alumni contributions, so the power to arm security officers is tenuous at times and always a hot-button issue.