Schoolchildren in Kansas better hope they’re not caught wandering around without a hall pass: a school district in the Sunflower State has ignited controversy after it decided to arm its security officers with semi-automatic rifles.
Two years ago, Shawnee Mission School district purchased eight Smith & Wesson M&P semi-automatic rifles for its security guards to use while on duty. However, many parents were apparently not made aware of the transaction until recently, when a local newspaper published an article about Shawnee Mission’s policies compared to neighboring districts.
Now, some parents are wondering why they were not directly informed about the decision while others are miffed that they did not have a say.
“It’s pretty offensive to me as a taxpayer to feel like you don’t have any voice and you are being excluded from decisions that could harm your child or kill them,” said parent Melissa Patt, echoing a sentiment held by many other parents with children who attend Shawnee Mission schools.
School safety director John Douglass, who previously served as Overland Park Police Chief and oversaw the purchase of the rifles back in September 2015, claimed that there have been enough school shootings and other similar tragedies across the country to warrant a more proactive approach to ensuring the wellbeing of students.
“This weapon is a very serious weapon for some very limited circumstances,” said Douglass, whose officers operate separately from the city’s police force. “You are never going to see it unless something really bad is happening.”
All seven of the school’s resource officers and their supervisor each received one of the rifles, while security guards in neighboring districts receive their more typical weapons through partnerships with local police departments.