Superintendent says response to air-soft gun incident will be reviewed

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North Attleborough High School

By Max Bowen-max.bowen@northstarreporter.com

Following last week’s incident in which a student was in possession of an air-soft gun at the high school, many have commented on officials’ response.

Some say they acted too slowly or should have initiated an immediate lockdown, that the response could have potentially put lives at risk.

At a recent meeting of the School Committee, Superintendent John Antonucci said since that day he’s been in contact with the town’s chief of police and is committed to making improvements if they’re needed. But he stands by the handling of the incident.

The information showed there was no real threat,” said Antonucci at the Nov. 1 meeting. “We’ve talked a lot about it to see if there were any gaps, if there was something we can improve upon. Of course we can improve.”

In a statement issued by the high school, students were in the cafeteria prior to the start of school on Wednesday, Oct. 27. At that time, a student was found to be in possession of an air-soft gun that appeared to be a firearm. This was reported to the administration and the item was confiscated. Those responsible for possessing the gun were removed from the school.

The statement said that no one was injured during this incident, though the possession of the weapon served to incite fear. The school day continued as normal.

Antonucci said that the student who was in possession of the gun had borrowed it from a classmate and brought it to the school to return it. He said the student “made a very poor decision” and that it was “in the best of circumstances an inappropriate thing to have in the school building.”

Individuals in the U.S. must be 18 years of age or older to purchase an air-soft gun. These are not classified as firearms and are legal for use by all ages under federal law. Some municipalities and states place restrictions on these guns. New York City, Washington, D.C., Chicago, San Francisco, and parts of Michigan outlaw them entirely.

Regarding the concerns raised by parents, Antonucci said he appreciates the issues being raised. On the subject of a lockdown, he said it’s not a panacea for every situation. He encouraged the public to look beyond what they read on social media in in news accounts.

We will take the information and make changes as needed,” he said. “We need to look forward.”

Town Council President Justin Pare was at the meeting and said that approximately $1 million has been spent on improvements to school security, such as stronger doors and better communication systems. Antonucci said that he and the police will review what happened in the coming days.

It’s work that never ends,” he said.