Public universities in Arizona are arming their campus police officers with military-style assault rifles, The Arizona Republic reported today.
For long-range shots, assault rifles are more accurate than the pistols campus officers usually carry, a spokesman for the University of Arizona’s police department told the Republic.
Although the weapons may be useful in responding to an active shooter, officials at Arizona, Arizona State University, and Northern Arizona University said their decision to purchase the rifles was unrelated to mass killings at Virginia Tech last year and Northern Illinois University last month.
Arizona State will be the first of the three universities to begin using the weapons. It has bought four, at $700 each, and will require each officer to undergo 40 hours of training over the next few months, the newspaper said. When not needed to respond to an incident, the weapons will be stowed in officers’ patrol cars.
Assault rifles are not new to universities. Several campus police departments in the University of California and California State University systems already are armed with them. —Sara Lipka