Fla. School Adopts Advanced Rifles as Principal Says 'We're Not Looking for a Fair Fight'


In the wake of the February 2018 massacre at a high school in Parkland, Florida, President Donald Trump had suggested that school districts might be wise to hire well-trained military veterans to serve as armed guards on school campuses to help keep students safe from potential mass shootings in the future.

At least one school in Florida appears to have heeded that advice. Thanks to a Florida school safety law that allows for more options for armed school security, that school will now employ two combat veterans armed with semi-automatic bullpup-style rifles to help guard the campus.

The Bradenton Herald was the first to report on the move by the Manatee School for the Arts in Palmetto, Florida.

“If someone walks onto this campus, they’re going to be shot and killed,” school Principal Bill Jones said. “We’re not going to talk with them. We’re not going to negotiate. We are going to put them down, as quickly as possible.”

Jones and the Manatee County school cited the 2018 Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act, a provision within the law that created the Coach Aaron Feis Guardian Program, as the inspiration for their security enhancing decision.

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The New York Times reported that the law stipulates that all school campuses in the state are required to have at least one armed security officer on campus at all times. That could be the typical school resource officer employed by local law enforcement or a “school safety officer” employed by either law enforcement or the school district, or even a “school guardian” employed solely by the district.

Jones told The Times that if armed intruders were to enter his campus, “we’re not looking for a fair fight. We’re looking at an overwhelming advantage.”

The Bradenton Herald reported that the two school guardians hired by the Manatee school will be armed with Glock handguns and Kel-Tec’s semi-automatic RDB rifle, a long gun in a shortened bullpup configuration that measures only 17 inches in total length and is chambered in the same .223 caliber or 5.56 mm as regularly configured AR-15 style rifles.

To be sure, the Kel-Tec rifle is not the be all, end all of the semi-automatic rifle world, but its shortened down bullpup design provides an excellent middle ground in a tactical situation by providing more firepower and range than a mere handgun without the extra length and limited maneuverability of a typical full-sized rifle.

Do you support the idea of hiring combat veterans to help guard school campuses?

Jones said, “There’s no guarantee that the guardian’s going to be where he’s needed at the time, but you do the best. And certainly, the long gun gives you a better range.”

Using a hypothetical shootout in the cafeteria as an example of the need for the greater range offered by the rifles, Jones added, “If someone comes in with a handgun, great, than we have a tremendous advantage and we will use that advantage.”

The school guardians will use special ammunition designed to minimize the possibility of over-penetration and will wear heavier combat-rated body armor than that typically used by most police officers. Additionally, the school is constructing a special guard shack that visitors will have to pass through to enter school grounds, and have increased the campus’ perimeter fencing from six to eight feet in height and installed additional security cameras

A 15-year U.S. Army veteran with combat experience gained on three tours of Afghanistan and Iraq has already been hired as a guardian. He will soon be joined by a second guardian currently in training with the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office that is supportive of the school’s decision.

As to the reasoning behind why he had specifically hired guardians with combat experience, Jones told the Bradenton Herald, “If you’re ever going to have an event on campus, I don’t want it to be the first time they’ve been shot at.

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“I don’t want them trying to figure who they are and how they are going to respond. That’s a life-changing experience and these folks, I don’t want this to be the first time they’ve asked themselves, ‘What am I going to do?’” he said.

It is disturbing that we live in an age when there is a justifiable fear of mass shootings against innocent children in a school campus setting. However, as distasteful as that may be, it is sadly a reality of our current society that must be accounted for when dealing with school safety.

This principal should be commended for stepping outside the box and going the extra mile to protect his students with specially-trained combat veterans, in addition to other security measures, to help guard against potential mass shootings in the future.

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Ben Marquis is a writer who identifies as a constitutional conservative/libertarian. He has written about current events and politics for The Western Journal since 2014. His focus is on protecting the First and Second Amendments.
Ben Marquis has written on current events and politics for The Western Journal since 2014. He reads voraciously and writes about the news of the day from a conservative-libertarian perspective. He is an advocate for a more constitutional government and a staunch defender of the Second Amendment, which protects the rest of our natural rights. He lives in Little Rock, Arkansas, with the love of his life as well as four dogs and four cats.
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