Ga. school district votes to allow staff to have long-range rifles on school grounds

Katie LaPotin, Red Alert Politics, December 18, 2013

School resource officers at middle and high schools in Gainesville, Ga. will have access to long-range rifles while on school grounds, after the school board approved the measure at Monday night’s meeting.

The idea for staff to have access to guns at the schools actually came from the local police department, which approached the school board about the issue earlier this year. AccessNorthGa.com reported that the board had planned on voting on the gun measure in October but decided to wait so governance councils at the three schools could review the pros and cons of having the weapons on their campuses.

“We have a very strong relationship with Gainesville Police Department,” Gainesville School District Chairwoman Maria Calkins told The Gainesville Times. “We work with them every day to protect the kids and make Gainesville City Schools a safe place.”

According to The Gainesville Times, each of the district’s three secondary schools will have one rifle, likely a Colt 6920 M4. The gun will be kept inside a safe only accessible by the school resource officer using biometric technology. In addition, the gun will only be on school grounds if the resource officer was present – if not, it would be locked in his vehicle.

The program, which is estimated to cost $6,000, will be paid for by both the school district and the police department. Neither Calkins nor Gainesville Superintendent Merrianne Dyer were sure when the rifles would be placed in the schools, however.

School Board Member Willie Mitchell, who opposed the measure, told The Gainesville Times that he didn’t think having guns on school property was “the best way to (take care) of the situation.

“For some reason or another, I just can’t buy into guns in school,” he said. “To me it’s like putting Band-Aids on a cancer. Yeah, we need to study ways to keep bad people out of our school system but a gun in a cabinet, away from where probably the scene would happen, isn’t going to stop any damage.”

Calkins added that the decision to have guns on site was not in anyway effected by the recent school shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. or at Arapahoe High School in Centennial, Colo.

“This is about the relationship between Gainesville Police Department and Gainesville City Schools,” she said. “And what (the police) feel they need to do to do their job. It has nothing to do with any other school systems.”

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