Some S.C. Highway Patrol troopers, fearful of being outgunned, have been buying and bringing their own high-powered rifles on duty to replace their state-issued shotguns.

The news comes as the state Department of Public Safety is seeking $500,000 in next year's state budget to equip all troopers with AR-15 rifles, which officials contend could save lives if there's a mass shooting in South Carolina.

Col. Chris Williamson, commander of the S.C. Highway Patrol, recently confirmed that some front-line troopers wanted the more effective rifles so badly for potential confrontations that about 50 have bought their own in the past couple of years. 

A policy change allowed troopers to carry personal rifles on the job that meet specifications, provided they undergo the agency's eight-hour course on the weapon, the Charleston Post and Courier reports.