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School District Will Allow Officers To Carry Long-Range Rifles

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File photo of rifles. (Photo by AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)

File photo of rifles. (Photo by AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)

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GAINESVILLE, Ga. (CBS Atlanta) – Resource officers at Gainesville schools will have access to long-range rifles after the school board approved a measure at its Monday meeting.

One board member, Willie Mitchell, voted against it while Vice Chairwoman Delores Diaz was absent according to Gainesville Times.

“For some reason or another, I just can’t buy into guns in school,” Mitchell told the newspaper. “I’m not sure that’s the best way to (take care) of the situation. I understand with some things in life … things make headlines.”

After the December 2012 Newtown, Conn., elementary school shooting, the police department in Gainesville approached the school board in early 2013 with the idea of allowing the guns on campuses.  However, the issue was readdressed in a September work session.

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

There will be one rifle each in Gainesville High School, Gainesville Middle School and Wood’s Mill Academy under the accepted measure by the school board.  The proposed gun, a Colt 6920 M4 carbine, would only be accessible by the school resource officer using biometric technology and kept inside a safe, the newspaper reported.  In addition, if the resource officer was not present on campus, the gun would not be either.  Instead, it would be locked in the officer’s vehicle. 

The school system and the police department are going to split the $6,000 price tag evenly.  It’s not clear when the rifles will be placed inside the schools.

“We respond. 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,” Mitchell said to the newspaper.

Calkins noted that the desire to place guns inside the schools is not a reaction to any outside events.

“This is about the relationship between Gainesville Police Department and Gainesville City Schools,” Calkins said to the newspaper. “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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