Idaho school district OKs rifles for resource officers

POCATELLO, Idaho (AP) An eastern Idaho school district has approved installing gun safes in its high schools and middle schools so school resource officers can have their service semi-automatic rifles available if needed.

The School District 25 board voted 4-1 Wednesday night to pass a resolution supporting the gun safe policy for its school resource officers.

Pocatello police Chief Scott Marchand said the district, which encompasses Pocatello and neighboring Chubbuck, is not the first in the state to authorize that school officers have rifles available. Under the rules, the inside of SRO offices would be under surveillance cameras and officers would take the rifles home at the end of each day.

"This is the tool I would want to be armed with," Marchand said about giving SRO's access to semi-automatic firearms. "I don't want my guys to be out-gunned."

District officials also made clear the resolution is not a step toward arming teachers.

A section of the resolution related to school staff states: "The board of trustees of the Pocatello/Chubbuck School District 25 has no intent to move in the direction of allowing school personnel to carry weapons onto school property."

The vote came after a hearing in which some argued having rifles on school grounds posed a safety hazard and others suggested posting metal detectors at doors.

"Semi-automatic rifles and schools don't mix," Pocatello resident Shane Reichert wrote in a letter entered into the hearing record.

The only vote against the resolution came from school board trustee Paul Vitale, who said with the school shooting in Newtown, Conn., two months ago, it's just too early to debate bringing guns into schools.