The New York Times has reported that Manatee School for the Arts in Palmetto, Florida, will hire two combat veterans to patrol the hallways of the school. Each veteran will wear body armor and hold a 9-millimeter Glock handgun and a semiautomatic rifle with a 17-inch barrel.
The principal, Bill Jones, said that if an armed intruder entered the campus, “we’re not looking for a fair fight. We’re looking at an overwhelming advantage.”
After the Parkland massacre last year, legislation passed that requires schools in Florida to have at least one “safe-school officer.” Manatee School for the Arts is the only school in the county that chose to hire armed guards who carry rifles.
“It’s just a much more effective weapon than the handgun is,” Dr. Jones said.
Michael Dorn, the executive director of Safe Havens International, which has performed security assessments at many public schools in Florida, has said that the decision to patrol with long guns is “very unusual.”
“It’s not something that we typically advise our clients to do for a variety of reasons,” he added, in part because someone might attack the officer and take the gun.
The school will also raise its perimeter fencing by two feet and add a guard shack to its entrance.
“We have guardians in almost all of our elementary schools, and in most of our charter schools,” said Michael Barber, a spokesman for the School District of Manatee County.
Dr. Jones said that so far, “most parents have been very accepting.”
Amanda Klinger, the director of operations at the Educator’s School Safety Network, an organization that trains educators and administrators in violence-prevention measures, said, “We don’t know that those security interventions will stop the things that they’re seeking to stop. My question is, what else are they doing to keep kids safe in schools? What are they doing to keep kids safe from risks or threats other than active shooters?”