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Gainesville schools consider arming officers with semi-automatic rifles

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School officials in Gainesville will meet Monday night to discuss arming their school resource officers with semi-automatic assault rifles. School officials in Gainesville will meet Monday night to discuss arming their school resource officers with semi-automatic assault rifles.
GAINESVILLE, Ga. -

A local police chief is pushing for more guns in schools. School officials in Gainesville met on Monday to discuss arming their school resource officers with semi-automatic assault rifles.  

The proposal to arm school resource officers with assault rifles was first explored following the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newton, Conn.  However, concerns among parents and other volunteers who make up the district's Governance Council tabled any action at that time.

The idea resurfaced after a recent security threat at McNair Elementary School in DeKalb County. Gainesville Police Chief Brian Kelly said that the DeKalb County school incident hit close to home and convinced him to push his proposal to better arm his school resource officers.

At Monday's meeting, council members focused on safety concerns.

"We were able to answer those with how we would put them in a safe and assure that the safe is anchored and it would be a bio-metric safe. That it would have to have the fingerprints of the assigned officer," Kelly said.

Officials say the rifles would be stored in a safe for emergencies only at three schools that already have resource officers: Gainesville High, Gainesville Middle and Woods Mill Academy. Officers at those schools already currently carry sidearms. Police say the bigger weapons would help those officers respond to people packing the same kind of heat.  
 
"We've got to make sure we're one step above and be able to respond appropriately and proficiently," Kelly said.

If approved, the police and the school district would split the $6,000 cost of three weapons and training, according to Kelly.

The plan must still be approved by the Gainesville School Board. It's not known when that vote may take place.

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