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Utah Governor Signs Bill Funding Firearms Training For Teachers

Utah Gov. Spencer Cox (R) signed a bill Thursday that will encourage teachers to carry guns or keep guns in their classroom.

The new law will create a program to train teachers in using a firearm and to “incentivize school teachers to responsibly secure or carry a firearm on school grounds,” according to the measure’s text.

The new measure builds on an existing law enacted last year that waived concealed-carry permit fees for teachers. The new training measures will only be open to teachers with concealed carry permits, though teachers with a permit who do not participate in the training may still bring their gun to school.

The law will also provide legal protections to participating teachers if they accidentally harm a student or other staff member while carrying or storing their gun, as long as they have acted “in good faith” and are not “grossly negligent” with their weapon, according to the law’s text.

Cindy Bullock, Timpanogos Academy secretary, participates in shooting drills at the Utah County Sheriff's Office shooting range during the teacher's academy training, June 29, 2019.
Cindy Bullock, Timpanogos Academy secretary, participates in shooting drills at the Utah County Sheriff's Office shooting range during the teacher's academy training, June 29, 2019. via Associated Press

Gun violence prevention advocates went to the Utah State Capitol earlier this month to ask Cox to veto the legislation, The Associated Press reported.

The bill’s sponsor, Republican Rep. Tim Jimenez, argued the training is only for defensive purposes.

“What we’re looking at here isn’t having teachers running around the hallways trying to act like police officers,” Jimenez said earlier this month. “What we’re going to be training them to do specifically is how to defend their classroom, gym or whatever room they happen to be in with the students.”

The new program will cost the Department of Public Safety approximately $100,000 a year.

Following the bill’s signing on Thursday, the gun violence prevention group Moms Demand Action released a statement decrying the use of guns in schools.

“Let’s keep our educators centered on what they do best — teaching,” Jaden Christensen, a volunteer with the group’s Utah chapter, said in a statement. “We should be working on finding ways to keep guns out of the wrong hands and out of the classroom — not inviting them into our schools.”

“It’s shameful that this new law will do the opposite,” Christensen added.

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