CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) - The Madison County school system in North Carolina says it plans to put AR-15 rifles in emergency safes in all of its six schools as part of a new incentive for increased security in the wake of the deadly Uvalde, Texas, school shooting earlier this year when 19 children and two teachers were killed in a fourth-grade classroom.
"We were able to put an AR-15 rifle and safes in all of our schools in the county," Sheriff Buddy Harwood told the Asheville Citizen-Times. "We’ve also got breaching tools to go into those safes. We’ve got extra magazines with ammo in those safes."
Harwood said the rifles will ideally allow police to quickly defend against a school shooting. Harwood criticized the police that responded to the Uvalde shooting saying the time they took to respond to the shooting cost lives.
"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," said Harwood.
"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," he added.
Gun makers have taken in more than $1 billion from selling AR-15-style guns over the past decade, according to a House investigation unveiled last month.
The weapons have been used in massacres that have horrified the nation, including one that left 10 people dead at a grocery store in Buffalo and another where 19 children and two teachers were shot to death in Uvalde, Texas.
The Committee on Oversight and Reform said some ads mimic popular first-person shooter video games or tout the weapons' military pedigree while others claim the guns will put buyers "at the top of the testosterone food chain."
Those sales tactics are "deeply disturbing, exploitative and reckless," said Democratic Rep. Carolyn Maloney of New York. "In short, the gun industry is profiting off the blood of innocent Americans."
Gun makers, on the other hand, said AR-15-style rifles are responsible for a small portion of gun homicides and the blame must go to the shooters rather than their weapons.
"What we saw in Uvalde, Buffalo and Highland Park was pure evil," said Marty Daniels, the CEO of Daniel Defense, the company that made the weapon used in Texas. "The cruelty of the murderers who committed these acts is unfathomable and deeply disturbs me, my family, my employees and millions of Americans across this country."
However, he added later in testimony before the committee, "I believe that these murders are local problems that have to be solved locally."
Gun violence overall spiked in 2020, but recent statistics indicate it is coming down this year in many cities.
The Associated Press contributed to this story. It was reported from Los Angeles.