The Boulder County Sheriff’s Office has come up with a new plan to stop potential school shooters: storing AR-15 rifles on school campuses.
According to the sheriff’s office, moving guns out of the cars of school resource officers, where they are presently kept, and into the school buildings themselves, ought to allow officers to respond faster. The two schools in question are in Lyons Middle/Senior High School and Niwot High School--where officer response time is presently 10 to 15 minutes.
Both schools are somewhat rurally located.
Robert Sullenberger, the division chief for Boulder County Sheriff, states that “We’re seeing the number of school shootings increase. The vast majority of these school shootings are concluded within five to seven minutes, so the quicker that we can address this threat, the better off everyone is.”
Colorado is of course home to Columbine High School, the site of perhaps the nation’s most notorious school shooting back in 1999, and Arapahoe High, where a fatal shooting took place in 2013.
The Boulder County proposal currently on the table stipulates that the guns be kept in locked safes inside the schools. The safes will be located in the office of the school resource officer. Only deputies will be able to open the vaults, via fingerprints. They will also still keep an AR-15 in their vehicle. Officials say they will monitor students and staff for signs of anxiety related to having the guns stored on campus.
The proposal will of course first need to be approved by the school board, before implementation.
Parents in the St. Vrain Valley School District seem to be divided over the idea. Opponents are wondering why the schools won’t just install metal detectors instead, or look to other solutions, while supporters believe that when it comes to school safety, schools should “go as far as you need to go.” When asked by a parent what evidence supports the Boulder sheriff’s proposal, Sullenberger replied, “police training.”
This is actually not the first time the school board has contemplated storing rifles on school campuses. St. Vrain superintendent Don Haddad says that several years ago, the board rejected a similar proposal from the sheriff’s office--but that the number of school shootings since then has led them to reconsider.
Brit Fell, a retired school resource officer from Lyons, reports he spent most of his time on the job within feet of his office, and believes it would have been more beneficial to have been able to have his gun stored nearby. “The biometric safe is actually a more secure place for the rifle than the car," he said. "This is not a political stance or anything along those lines."
Another meeting for the Niwot High School feeder community to discuss and ask questions about the proposal is scheduled for tonight at 6pm, at Sunset Middle School in Longmont, Colorado.