An Illinois community southwest of Chicago is astir after the local police chief proposed a new method to protect students: bring more guns to school.
Plainfield Police Chief John Konopek wants officers regularly assigned to district high schools to be allowed to keep an AR 15 semi-automatic rifle under lock and key in school offices so they are better prepared to handle school shootings, if the situation were to arise.
School officers will be the only ones able to access the weapons, NBC Chicago reports. Konopek notes that training exercises have shown that officers are "much better equipped to handle this type of incident" while using a long gun -- with greater range, accuracy and stopping power -- versus a handgun.
"Unfortunately, in today's society, active shooter incidents are no longer something we see on TV," Konopek said in a statement according to the station. "They are reality."
Konopek notes that a rifle inside the school merely increases an officer's access to firearms as necessary. Patrol officers keep a rifle in their squad cars.
"It's a very sad statement about society, but we wouldn't be doing our job if we didn't [prepare for a worst-case scenario]," Konopek told the Joliet Herald-News.
District spokesperson Tom Hernandez has said that the school board is willing to consider the request, and a vote is planned for Monday, according to the Sun-Times Media Wire.
The request to store guns has been made for Plainfield Central Campus, Plainfield East, Plainfield North and Plainfield Academy, CBS Chicago reports.
While one board member told WLS-TV that he can support the idea, some Plainfield residents are concerned it sends the wrong message -- and carries risks.
"What's the likelihood of an innocent party being shot and killed if they do use the gun?" Plainfield resident Brian Wilson told WLS-TV. "I'm just completely opposed to guns in the school at all."
The proposal in Plainfield comes after a February shooting at Chardon High School in northeast Ohio. Three students died and two others were injured after 17-year-old Thomas "T.J." Lane opened fire in the school cafeteria just before classes started in the morning.
The shooting came to an end when the school's assistant basketball coach and study hall teacher Frank Hall chased the teen out of the building.Lane has pleaded not guilty to three counts of murder.