By Hannah Borison
In a press conference following the Sandy Hook Elementary school shooting, National Rifle Association Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre said, “We need to have every single school in America immediately deploy a protection program proven to work —and by that I mean armed security.”
The Fontana Unified School District is one step ahead of the NRA.
While many view this proposal as controversial, the Fontana Unified School District (FUSD) has already purchased and received semi-automatic rifles to arm its school police.
FUSD purchased 14 Colt military-style rifles this past October, and received them in the beginning of December, a week before the Newtown, Connecticut shooting.
FUSD police chief Billy Green said that the purchases were not spurred by any incident.
Green has stated that arming school police with high-power assault rifles is necessary because he believes that handguns are not sufficient.
Each rifle costs about $1,000, and the Fontana school police bought the 14 rifles using funds from fingerprinting fees. Because the total cost of the purchase was $14,000, it did not require approval by school board members.
The school board members were notified of the new rifles only after the purchase. Parents, students, and teachers were not involved in any community discussions about whether or not the district should buy the rifles.
After the school police department finalized the order and the shipment was received, school police officers began their training. Each received 40 hours of training with the rifles over the winter break.
The guns are kept in safes at the school or in police patrol cars, which theoretically, only school police have access to.
However, questions have been raised as to the possibility of others gaining access to the stored guns.
While it may be shocking to hear that a school district so close to The Land (70 miles east of Reseda) is implementing these new practices, something similar is happening even closer.
The Los Angeles Unified School District lends out assault rifles to school police when needed. LAUSD declined to comment on how many rifles they own, but they stated that the guns are held in a department armory and are handed out and returned daily.
In fact, many other districts in California and across the country hand out rifles to school police. The Santa Ana Unified School District has had a program almost identical to FUSD’s for two years.
The San Bernardino Unified School District bought four Bushmaster semiautomatic rifles last year.
Unsurprisingly, this has opened much debate over whether or not semiautomatic rifles should be on hand in schools.
Views on the issue have varied. Some believe that arming school police will protect children, while others think it will militarize the schools and lead to a greater chance of gun violence.
Leticia Garcia, a member of the Fontana school board, stated, “We’re talking about a war-zone rifle, and so are we going to militarize our public schools? We have to provide a safe haven for people to learn…but this, to me, seems a little bit too much.”