Sheriff’s office: Storing AR-15s at schools ‘about kids and keeping kids safe’

BOULDER COUNTY, Colo. -- The Boulder County Sheriff's Office and the St. Vrain Valley School District are discussing a controversial proposal that would allow school resource officers to store AR-15s down the hall from classrooms.

The Boulder County Sheriff's Office is behind the proposal and said the move would make Niwot High School and Lyons Middle Senior High School safer for students and teachers.

"This is about kids and keeping kids safe. That's all this is," said Robert Sullenberger, division chief for the sheriff's office.

School shootings have become a new reality.

The sheriff's office is concerned both schools are at least 10 to 15 minutes from the nearest police department or sheriff's office.

Law enforcement is concerned about what could happen if a shooter opened fire inside either school, with just one armed school resource officer on campus, armed with only a handgun.

"The vast majority of our school shootings last five to seven minutes," said Sullenberger.

School resource officers are equipped with assault rifles, but those weapons are kept in the deputy's vehicle.

Under the proposal, those weapons would be stored in a safe inside the school where a resource officer would have easier access to it.

The guns would be stored in a safe that could only be accessed with a deputy's fingerprint.

Donna Bitterman teaches at another school in the area, but her stepson attends Niwot High School.

She said she understands why law enforcement is concerned, but is worried about the unintended consequences of having AR-15s inside the school.

"I do worry that by placing these weapons within our schools that we'll be spreading the wrong message to students that you're not safe here," she said.

"I really kind of go back and forth on it. I don't really like the idea of having an AR-15 in the school and at the same time I don't really know what the best way to protect our children is anymore," added Erika Anderson, the parent of an elementary school student in Lyons.

The school board would have to approve the proposal before the rifles would be allowed inside the schools next fall.

Another community meeting will be held for parents at 6 p.m. Thursday at Sunset Middle School in Longmont so that parents can ask questions and share their opinions.

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