Bismarck School Officers Might Start Using AR-15s Instead Of Handguns To Protect Students

ByCaroline Burke
Spencer Platt/Getty Images News/Getty Images

If a new addition to the city budget is approved for next January, Bismarck school resource officers might start using AR-15s instead of handguns to make sure schools are "prepared" for the worst. The move, which was requested jointly by the Bismarck School System and the Bismarck Police Department, could yield $26,000 worth of AR-15s, bulletproof vests, and medical kits for six school resource officers, according to the Associated Press. District leaders are reportedly all in agreement that the introduction of AR-15s to the school system would supposedly increase school safety.

According to Lt. Jason Stugelmeyer, who oversees the department's Police Youth Bureau, the district started considering this idea in the wake of the Parkland shooting, where an AR-15 was notably used to kill 17 people in six minutes.

To the Associated Press, he said, "I fully believe that we have some solid preventative measures in place, and generally our schools are safe. But we have to do everything we can to be prepared for something if it did happen."

According to district officials, the plan is to keep the AR-15s locked up in the schools as a reported safety measure.

District Interim Supt. Jim Haussler said to the Associated Press, "I think we have to take any kind of threat to our kids seriously. I don't think (the police department's) request would've been made without them believing that (the rifles) will provide them with the tools necessary."

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The city will vote on the budget (and everything proposed within it) in January. The request by Bismarck schools to arm their school resource officers with AR-15 comes in the wake of an argument over school safety that's been waging since the Parkland shooting: whether it's better to focus on removing guns (via assault bans, universal checks, and so on), or better to arm more people with guns as a form of defense.

The idea of arming teachers with weapons as a solution to the epidemic of school shootings in America was originally brought into the mainstream by Donald Trump, who tweeted in February, "Armed Educators (and trusted people who work within a school) love our students and will protect them. Very smart people. Must be firearms adept & have annual training. Should get yearly bonus. Shootings will not happen again - a big & very inexpensive deterrent. Up to States."

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Since then, the notion of arming teachers has been one of the greatest arguments of the gun safety debate. But the idea of arming school officials not just with guns, but with AR-15s, could prove to be especially controversial. After all, Newsweek points out that AR-15s have been prevalent weapons of choice in school shootings.

What's more, the damage that can be done from a bullet coming out of an AR-15 is exponentially more powerful than what can be done with a handgun, as one doctor pointed out for The Atlantic.

If you live in Bismarck and are uncomfortable with the idea of AR-15s being used as a supplement for safety in your school, you should go straight to the source and contact your city commission to tell them you don't want the budget approved.