Fontana School Police Buy Assault Weapons, but Don’t Tell District Board

Thursday, January 24, 2013

A Southern California school district police force has obtained 14 assault weapons without knowledge of the school board and stashed them around the district in case of an armed attack.

Fontana school police didn’t need to clear the purchase with the board because the total price of $14,000 fell below the $25,000 reporting threshold. Nonetheless, some school board members were upset that such an important policy decision was made without their input or approval. Fontana is a city of 200,000 east of Los Angeles.

The weapons, Colt LE6940 carbines, are a semi-automatic version of the M-4, which is used in Afghanistan and Iraq. They were ordered in October and arrived in December, the week before the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre in Newtown, Connecticut, where 20 kids and five adults were gunned down.

Afterward, as momentum gained for state and national legislatures to address the ready availability of powerful assault weapons, the National Rifle Association began to promote the controversial idea of putting armed guards in all schools to prevent violence.

Fontana is not the first school district in California to arm itself. In nearby San Bernardino City Unified School District, its police force picked up four Bushmaster semiautomatic rifles last July. The Santa Ana Unified School District in Orange County has deployed weapons for two years and the Los Angeles School Police Department lets officers keep high-powered weaponry in their cars for emergencies. They’ve had them for about 10 years.

Lt. Joe Florentino told the Los Angeles Times that most San Diego Unified School District police officers have AR-15 rifles, but he said they bought the weapons themselves with permission from the department.

Fontana school officials have now begun the debate that some of them would have liked to have before the guns were purchased. School Board Vice President BarBara Chavez expressed a certain ambivalence about having weapons on campus because she is “really against violence.” But because we have “a lot of unstable people,” she was willing to look for a compromise and suggested that “maybe we don't need all these guns . . . maybe we only need five or six.”

–Ken Broder


To Learn More:

Fontana School Police Purchase 14 Military-Style Rifles (by Jim Steinberg, San Bernardino Sun)

Fontana, Calif., Schools Get High-Powered Rifles (by Gillian Flaccus, Associated Press)

Fontana School PD Purchases 14 AR-15 Assault Weapons to Protect Students (CBS)

Fontana School Police Are Armed with Semiautomatic Rifles (by Stephen Ceasar, Los Angeles Times)

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