The local school system and sheriff's office in one county have made sure that responders will be immediately ready for the worst-case scenario.

The Madison County public school system, located in Western North Carolina, will have school resource officers with AR-15s -- some of the most popular firearms in the country-- and breaching tools on campus for the upcoming 2022-23 school year after an agreement was reached with Sheriff Buddy Harwood's office. The rural district includes six campuses: three elementary, one middle, and two high schools. In addition to the new gear for SROs, the district will step up active shooter training for faculty and install a panic button system in each building that reports to the Sheriff’s Office.

The rifles and tools will be held in a safe accessible to the school's handgun-armed SROs and responding officers if needed, reports the Asheville Citizen Times. 

"The reason we put the breaching tools in the safes is that in the event we have someone barricaded in a door, we won't have to wait on the fire department to get there," said Harwood. "We'll have those tools to be able to breach that door if needed. 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."

Banner image: Armalite M-15 style AR-15 with an EoTech XPS sight and Timney trigger. (Photo: Chris Eger/

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