A North Dakota School May Be Getting AR-15’s for Security, and What’s the Big Deal?

Photo for The Washington Post by Ilana Panich-Linsman

For some reason a request put in by the Bismarck Police Department for AR-15’s, to be kept (and hopefully never used outside of training) by school resource officers in that jurisdiction is making national news.

I can’t figure out why. Is it the model of the gun? The much-hyped AR-15 which has been much derided by gun rights opponents as an example of the sort of weapon Americans simply don’t need access to?

Is it the idea of these guns being placed in schools, even if they’ll be under the control of trained law enforcement officers?

I wish it wasn’t something we had to countenance. I also wish we had no need for cops or soldiers in our world. Unfortunately, the things we wish for often don’t gibe with reality.

I suspect it’s some combination of both, which speaks to just how shallow the gun control debate has become. Even just the use of certain trigger words is enough to set off a certain faction of the public.

The request from the Bismarck PD is a reasonable one. The cost isn’t enormous, coming it at just under $26,000 for the guns, body armor, and medical kits. The weapons will be kept on school grounds, sure, but they’ll be locked in a safe and under the control of trained school resource officers.

It’s a sad reality of our modern era that people running the gamut from political and religious extremists to the disaffected and mentally ill have taken to targeting schools and other public areas for violence. They’ve learned that these incidents create headlines for the causes and/or a degree of infamy for themselves.

We can, and have, debate until we’re blue in the face as to why this is the case and what sort of things we can do to stop it, but as long as the threat is real having resources in our schools to defend them is a reasonable thing.

I wish it wasn’t something we had to countenance. I also wish we had no need for cops or soldiers in our world.

Unfortunately, the things we wish for often don’t gibe with reality.

I’m not a fan of the school resource officer. Those who support them use school shootings as part of the justification for their presence, but the truth is most of these officers will never be anywhere near that sort of an incident. It’s more likely they’ll get involved in the far more typical sorts of juvenile shenanigans which are common at our schools, and I’m not sure that’s a good development. Cops are great at law enforcement and very poor at discipline, I think.

Yet since the SRO’s are probably here to stay, we may as well ensure they have the resources should the unthinkable happen.

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com, a columnist for the Forum News Service, and the host of the Rob (Re)Port on Fargo-based WDAY AM970 from noon-2pm weekdays.

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