YORK COUNTY, S.C. -- Some South Carolina Highway Patrol troopers are buying rifles for their patrol cars, in the fear that they would be outgunned in an active shooter situation.
Currently, SCHP only issues shotguns. That's why the department has a $500,000 budget request to equip all their troopers with AR-15s.
After a year that's seen a record number of mass shooting fatalities, highway patrol agencies across the nation are being trained and told to prepare for mass shooting situations.
But South Carolina troopers say the weapons they have now aren't enough to protect them — or the public.
“Our law enforcement officers should be armed as well as the criminals out there,” said Brian Zins, director of training at Point Blank Range Matthews. “It's become not a crime but more an act of war the way they carry out violence, hell-bent on carnage.”
Zins says he supports the South Carolina Highway Patrol's push to arm every trooper with an AR-15 rifle
“For an active shooter situation, I think this is probably one of the best things for troopers to have,” he said. “An AR-15 is going to be more useful for any law enforcement officer as opposed to a shotgun. With a shotgun, you've got to be within 20, 30 yards minimum. With an AR-15 you can get out 200 or 300 yards.”
The department of public safety has requested $500,000 to buy the AR-15s, which they say could save lives if there's a mass shooting in the Carolinas.
But some troopers aren't waiting around for the budget to clear. Highway patrol leaders say at least 50 South Carolina troopers have recently gone ahead and bought their own AR-15s to carry on the job, something they're allowed to do thanks to a recent policy change. It states troopers can carry personal weapons with them, as long as they undergo the agency's eight-hour course on the weapon first.
AR-15s cost about $1,000 each, but that could be a small price to pay when it comes to life or death.
“When your life is on the line you've got to know that your equipment is going to work for you every single time,” Zins said.