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Penzone says protecting schools isn’t as easy as giving teachers a gun

Maricopa County Sheriff Paul Penzone speaks at a news conference, Tuesday, April 4, 2017, in Phoenix. Penzone announced that he will be closing the tent city jail in the coming months and relocating inmates to other jails. (AP Photo/Matt York)

LISTEN: Sheriff Paul Penzone

PHOENIX — Maricopa County Sheriff Paul Penzone said Friday that protecting the nation’s schools is not as easy as simply handing out guns to teachers.

“It’s not simple,” he told Bruce St. James and Pamela Hughes on KTAR News 92.3 FM.

“Taking a life, even in the defense of others, is not as simple as saying, ‘I’m going to give you some training and put a gun in your hand, now go do it.’ It is far more complex than that.”

Penzone said multiple solutions will be needed to stop mass shootings, such as the one carried out last week at a Florida high school.

The sheriff said you can arm and train people, but there’s no guarantee they will follow through when bullets start flying.

“This is still a human dynamic,” he said. “Fear is a very, very powerful source and I have seen men and women who are veterans in the face of danger respond in a matter where it overwhelms them. That’s not something you can test for.”

Penzone’s comments came one day after it was revealed an armed deputy was outside of Stoneman Douglas High School when a gunman started shooting. The deputy did not enter the school or confront the shooter.

The sheriff said he did not want to pass judgment on the deputy — who resigned Thursday — but said every second counts in mass shootings.

“We know fully that, if we don’t interfere and try to put an end to that threat, more lives will be taken,” he said.

Penzone also said that when people enter law enforcement, they must be aware they are making a commitment to put the lives of others in front of their own.

“At the end of the day, you have to contentiously say, when the circumstances are at their most dire and other’s lives are at jeopardy, ‘I am willing to go forward and put an end to that threat,'” he said.

“I fully expect that every deputy that works in my office is willing and takes that commitment.”

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