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Calif. schools police buy AR-15s to protect students

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**FILE** Officials tape off an area outside San Joaquin Valley High School in Taft, Calif., on Jan. 10, 2013. Authorities said a student was shot and wounded and another student was taken into custody. (Associated Press/Taft Midway Driller, Doug Keeler)

In response to a wave of gun crime across the country, particularly in Newtown, Conn., the police department for a California school district just outside Los Angeles has purchased 14 AR-15 rifles in efforts to protect its students.

Fontana Unified School District Superintendent Cali Olsen-Binks OK’d the measure, allowing each school to keep the rifles stored in a secure location for officials to access in case of an emergency.

Fontana Police Chief Rodney Jones agreed with the decision.

“It’s unfortunate that we have to have that, but it’s the best message we can send to anybody that thinks to harm our children,” Mr. Jones told CBS Los Angeles. “The message we’re sending is … not here, not now, we’re prepared for you. And if you seek to harm our children, we will neutralize that threat and you will most likely be killed.”

The acquisition of rifles has naturally received some backlash. School board member Sophia Green said she did not believe the guns would make students safer. She said police did not inform the board of their plans during three public safety meetings about campus violence.

“They did have meetings, but at no point [did anyone say], ‘semi-automatic guns will be bought,’ ‘we have semi-automatic guns,’ or ‘semi-automatic guns are being stored on school property,’” she told CBS.

Anna Conklin, a child development specialist, also opposed storing the guns on school grounds, urging more counseling.

“We, as a society, need to address why children are growing up to commit these acts as teens and adults. I don’t see how adding more weapons on a campus is addressing that,” she said.

About the Author

Jessica Chasmar

Jessica Chasmar is a continuous news writer for The Washington Times. Previously, she was part of the start-up team for The Washington Times’ digital aggregation product, Times247. She can be reached at jchasmar@washingtontimes.com.

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