Some North Carolina schools now have locked-up AR-15s for law enforcement. Gun-safety experts are appalled

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Sheriff Buddy Harwood and Lt. Coy Phillips meet with school system administration July 13 to brief them on the enhanced security procedures coming to Madison County Schools in 2022-23.

MARSHALL, N.C. – A North Carolina sheriff’s office has placed locked-up AR-15 rifles on a school district’s six campuses as an added security measure for the coming school year in response to the Uvalde, Texas, mass school shooting. 

It’s a move the North Carolina sheriff says will help law enforcement respond to possible acts of violence at the schools. But experts told USA TODAY the idea was unlikely to work and is the wrong approach to curbing gun violence.

Madison County Sheriff Buddy Harwood has promoted the idea as the nation reels from the botched law-enforcement response in Uvalde, Texas. The tragedy revealed systemic failures and poor decision-making, and responding police disregarded active-shooter trainings, according to a Texas state house report

“Hopefully, we’ll never need it, but I want my guys to be as prepared as prepared can be,” Harwood said. 

If an active-shooter situation occurs, the sheriff’s office has stored semi-automatic weapons in locked safes at each Madison County school. The safes also contain extra magazines, ammunition and breaching tools, Harwood said. 

FILE - AR-15-style rifles are on display at Burbank Ammo & Guns in Burbank, California, June 23, 2022. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File)

“In the event we have someone barricaded in a door, we won’t have to wait on the fire department,” he added. “We’ll have those tools to be able to breach that door if needed. I do not want to have to run back out to the car to grab an AR, because that’s time lost.”

But national gun-safety experts told USA TODAY they disagreed with the idea.

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