- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 20, 2018

North Carolina officials are weighing whether or not to add volunteer armed guards to schools in the wake of last week’s school shooting in Florida.

Rockingham County Sheriff Sam Page said the program is still in the development stage, but that he’s had “good conversations” about it with county schools superintendent Rodney Shotwell.

“If established, this program would act an armed force multiplier to help protect our children and teachers in Rockingham County Schools against any persons that might seek to do them harm,” Sheriff Page said. “Our children are our future, and I believe we must do everything we can to protect them.”

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A state statute allows sheriffs to establish a “volunteer school safety resource officer program” involving former law enforcement or military police officers. People appointed by the sheriff would have the power of arrest while performing their duties.

The sheriff’s office would be the first agency to establish such a program in the state.

State and federal officials are grappling with how to respond to last week’s Florida school shooting that left 17 people dead and more than a dozen others wounded.

Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel said last week that an armed school resource deputy was present at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, but didn’t encounter the shooter.

Beyond increasing armed security at schools, some are pushing for more incentives for states and federal agencies to submit records to the national federal background check system, which could flag people who are mentally ill or are otherwise legally barred from having a gun.

The FBI acknowledged last week that it failed to follow up on a tip that Nikolas Cruz, the 19-year-old man who says he was the Florida shooter, had a gun and wanted to kill people. He was charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder and is being held without bond.

Still others are pushing for stricter controls, like increasing the minimum age to buy an AR-15-style rifle, which police say was used in the shooting, from 18 years old to 21. Authorities have said Mr. Cruz bought the gun legally.

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