MADISON COUNTY, NC – According to reports, Madison County out of North Carolina is taking a bold step in ensuring children are safe in schools by equipping every school in the county with AR-15 rifles inside dedicated emergency safes to be available in the event of a hostile shooter.

Speaking to the Asheville Citizen-Times earlier in August, Madison County Sheriff Buddy Harwood, who is a Democrat, stated, “We were able to put an AR-15 rifle and safes in all of our schools in the county. We’ve also got breaching tools to go into those safes. We’ve got extra magazines with ammo in those safes.”

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Said breaching tools will also be able to be used in the event police need to break down a barricaded door so that they don’t have to wait on the fire department or school superintendent for keys in such events.

Sheriff Hardwood explained the rationale for outfitting the schools with these rifles is to “make sure my deputies are prepared,” in the instance they even have to respond to a school shooting in the county. The Madison County sheriff made it painfully clear this measure was in response to the incident in Uvalde, levying criticism toward the law enforcement response to that incident.

“Those officers were in that building for so long, and that suspect was able to infiltrate that building and injure and kill so many kids…I do not want to have to run back out to the car to grab an AR because that’s time lost. Hopefully, we’ll never need it, but I want my guys to be as prepared as prepared can be.”

Obviously, the concept of keeping firearms inside of schools will attract its share of criticisms and concerns, to which Sheriff Hardwood isn’t oblivious. However, the sheriff bears a realist perspective, noting that measures need to be taken to mitigate real-world threats.

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“I hate that we’ve come to a place in our nation where I’ve got to put a safe in our schools and lock that safe up for my deputies to be able to acquire an AR-15. But, we can shut it off and say it won’t happen in Madison County, but we never know.”

The Democratic sheriff attested that when it comes to the parents in his county, he’ll do whatever it takes – even if it means he stands guard outside of schools while armed – to ensure that parents feel safe when bringing their children to school.

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“I want the parents of Madison County to know we’re going to take every measure necessary to ensure our kids are safe in this school system. If my parents, as a whole, want me to stand at that door with that AR strapped around that officer’s neck, then I’m going to do whatever my parents want as a whole to keep our kids safe.”

Madison County Schools Superintendent Will Hoffman issued a statement on the matter, emphasizing the points mentioned by Sheriff Hardwood about doing what is needed to ensure children are safe inside of school.

“Our partnership with law enforcement is a critical part of our daily preparations. We have to be vigilant and prepared for any possibility at any time. Our students have to feel safe in order to be safe.”

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