Security Officers in Colorado School Will Carry Semi-Automatic Rifles
Security staff director sets a national precedent
The Douglas School District in Colorado is arming security officers with high-powered rifles to protect school children, according to a recent article from the Denver Post. These rifles are assumed to be semi-automatic with a 16-inch barrel that can fire 30 rounds.
The article reports that the director of security for the school district, Richard Payne, budgeted $12,300 for 10 Bushmaster rifles for 8 security officers. The district school board was not notified of the change because it did not exceed the $75,000 needed for review and approval.
Supporters of the new security protocols say handguns may not be enough to keep children safe anymore. Payne made the decision after seeing school security officers train with sheriff deputies, the Post reported.
The deputies used larger weapons than the handguns the security officers had. He felt the rifles would be much more effective once the security officers are trained with them.
Payne’s decision isn’t a common one. The Denver Post called several large school districts in Denver to ask if their security officers were carrying rifles. All of them carried handguns, and Cherry Creek’s security officers were unarmed.
A Step in a New Direction
Payne’s decision is in line with the movement towards more weapons on school and college properties across the United States. Texas will allow people to carry guns on college and university campuses starting August 1st. Utah, Wisconsin, Kansas, Mississippi, Idaho, and Oregon already allow people to carry guns, as long as they have a permit. Georgia and Tennessee will be allowing it soon, too. Other states and school districts are considering it, and especially at schools with security officers. Even teachers may be allowed to arm themselves in class.
This new way to protect students may catch on across the United States. As schools become more accustomed to the idea of using larger weapons, such as the Bushmaster rifle, others may follow suit. This case demonstrates that some school leaders will want to avoid the lengthy debate process that will inevitable follow calls for this type of security
Extensive training is an inevitable requirement. Payne told the Denver Post the officers would undergo a 20-hour training course, the same that police officers complete, before being permitted to use the high-powered rifles on school property.
Many support the efforts, saying that the affordability of the Bushmaster rifle along with the 5.56 rounds makes it a viable choice for schools on a limited budget. Although the size and weight of the rifle (8 lbs.) makes it comfortable for security officers, reports from The Atlantic say the weapons will stay in officers’ cars during the school day.