FONTANA (CBSLA.com) — The Fontana Unified School District Police Department purchased 14 AR-15 assault weapons to protect students in response to recent shootings across the country, but some school leaders and citizens think it’s a step in the wrong direction.
FUSD Superintendent Cali Olsen-Binks approved the acquisition of the rifles, which are being stored on campuses in locked safes for responding police officers in the event of an attack.
Fontana Police Chief Rodney Jones and Mayor Acquanetta Warren supported Olsen-Binks’ 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,” said Jones. “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.”
Warren said, “Everyone wants children safe. At this time, we as a community, we have to come together and find other ways. But in the interim, our police officers need to be equipped.”
School board member Sophia Green, however, doesn’t believe anyone will be safer if weapons are kept inside schools.
“If a person who has the intention of coming on campus to kill… knows we have the AR-15s…they might come with something even bigger or better. They will come prepared,” she said.
Green said school officials, who held three public safety meetings about violence on campus, never even mentioned that they bought the weapons.
“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 said.
Anna Conklin, a child development specialist, also opposed storing the guns on school grounds. She told KCAL9′s Dave Bryan that a counseling program would be a better way to address violence on campus.
“Children aren’t born with a gun in their hand and vengeance in their mind. They aren’t necessarily going to grow into being a killer. 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,” Conklin said.
The police chief implied that school districts were forced to turn to high-powered weaponry for protection.
“As far as the percentage of school police departments that have them…we’re seeing a growing trend. Unfortunately, we’re seeing a growing trend where they have to do this. It’s a sad thing for society that we have to have this type of fire power in our schools, but we can’t ignore that this is the society that we live in,” said Jones.