January 29, 2013: The idea to have semi-automatic rifles on school campuses in California pre-dates the Newtown, Connecticut massacre of elementary schoolchildren. The San Bernardino Unified Schol District police force purchased four Bushmaster semiautomatic rifles in July 2012 [and plan to buy another 20 over the next three years], Linda Bardere, a district spokeswoman, told Associated Press reporter Gillian Flaccus on the Huffington Post. The Santa Ana Unified School District (Orange County) has had rifle program for about two years, according to police Cpl. Anthony Bertagna. And in December, a week before the Sandy Hook shootings, the Fontana Unified School District (Riverside County) took delivery of fourteen $1K high-powered, semi-automatic Colt LE6940s [i.e., they do not fire automatically: the trigger must be pulled to get a shot off]. The purchase, made in October, totalled $14K, was well under the $25K that requires approval by the Fontana Unified School board.
The guns are stored in a fireproof safe at school police headquarters. Officers who have received 40 hours of training in their use can check them out and keep them in locked safes at high school and middle school police offices during school hours before returning them, [former U.S. Marine and Chief of School Police Services Billy] Green, above, said.
The Los Angeles Times reported that the rifles have been on Fontana campuses since students returned from the winter break earlier this month:
...Though the purchase was not spurred by any one event, the rifles are designed to increase shooting accuracy from a distance and provides officers with effective stopping power against assailants wearing body armor. Those capabilities are necessary for officers to stop a well-armed gunman, Green contends.
“If you know of a better way to stop someone on campus that’s killing children or staff members with a rifle I’d like to hear it,” he said. “I don’t think its best to send my people in to stop them with just handguns.”
“I hope we would never have to use it,” he said. “But if we do, I’d like them to be prepared.”
... School board members were not informed until after the purchase was completed...
Following news of the purchase FUSD board member Leticia Garcia requested a "community discussion" scheduled for February 6, about the guns at a "lengthy school board meeting" on January 23, according to the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin.