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Florida School Hires Combat Vets with Semi-Automatic Rifles to Protect Their Students

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A school in Palmetto, Florida is not playing any games when it comes to the safety of their students.

Manatee School for the Arts, a charter school for middle and high school students, has hired two combat veterans with a great deal of experience to patrol their school looking out for possible armed intruders. And these veterans won’t be alone while they’re patrolling -- they’ll be armed with semi-automatic rifles. 

According to the New York Times

“By the end of February, the students… will see two combat veterans in body armor roaming the grounds, each carrying a 9-millimeter Glock handgun and a semiautomatic rifle with a 17-inch barrel.”

The principal of the school, Dr. Bill Jones, tells the Times he's “not looking for a fair fight” when it comes to armed intruders, but instead wants "an overwhelming advantage."

Dr. Jones sought guards who have experience in combat situations, realizing they would be less likely to hesitate at the moment of truth.

“I don’t want this to be the first time they’ve had someone shooting at them,” he said. 

"I wouldn't hire anybody who hadn't been shot at and fired back,” he told the Herald-Tribune. “I need someone who has been in that situation."

Florida schools are required to have at least one “safe-school officer” after legislation passed following the Parkland school mass shooting. Manatee School for the Arts, which holds 2,100 students, is the only school in its county to hire guards who carry semi-automatic rifles.

The executive director of Safe Havens International, Michael Dorn, says patrolling with long guns is not common, adding, “It’s not something that we typically advise our clients to do for a variety of reasons.” He stated someone may take the gun from an officer after knocking them out and how difficult it is to handcuff someone while carrying a long gun.

But not everyone has these safety concerns, Dr. Jones has said. In fact, he says he's found that “most parents have been very accepting."

The school also won’t allow the guns to be stored on campus, and the vets are required to “keep the chambers of their Key-Tec semi-automatic rifles empty" until they're needed.

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