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MANSFIELD, OH (WJW) – In the wake of the May 24th school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, districts around the country have been debating the possibility of arming teachers and other employees.

It turns out that a private school in Richland County took that dramatic step to enhance security four years ago.

Since 2018, visitors to the campus of Mansfield Christian School have been greeted with a sign that warns would-be intruders that certain employees are legally armed and will use whatever force is necessary to protect their students. 

“It seems like a lot of the stuff happens in the gun-free zones and this obviously isn’t going to be a gun-free zone, if they try and come around here and do something crazy, there will be consequences,” observed Brian James, a contractor who was replacing windows at the school on Wednesday.

The superintendent at Mansfield Christian says it was 6 years ago during the ongoing school shooting epidemic, that he decided to study the idea of arming certain staff members. 4 four years ago, after extensive debate, the school moved forward with the plan. 

Dr. Cy Smith told FOX 8, “We asked ‘is it the right thing to do?’ Talking to our families, talking to our customers, talking to our teachers and even some of the students, but of course, talking with local law enforcement and trying to make that decision, ‘Is that how we want to respond?'”

While acknowledging that providing protection for students and teachers is the function of law enforcement, the school felt that arming certain staff members provided a higher level of consistent security. 

“We don’t want to risk any delays if there would ever be a delay, so we want to make sure we have the capacity to at least choose to engage if we choose to do so, eliminate any time delay if such a tragic event were to happen.” 

Administrators believe the policy of arming certain employees and the warning sign in front of Mansfield Christian send a very clear message. “You better think twice before you come on this campus and seek to do harm to those kids, our children, it’s not in your best interest by any stretch of the imagination,” said Dr. Smith. The superintendent adds that one of the major benefits of arming teachers and other employees four years ago, has been the peace of mind it has given students and their parents.