TAYLORSVILLE, UTah -- After a Taylorsville teacher was shot when her concealed weapon accidentally discharged in a campus bathroom, the question of gun rights in schools and in the state has resurfaced.
State law allows anyone with a concealed carry permit to carry a weapon, loaded or not, pretty much anywhere they go, and that includes of course to work without having to tell their employer. One legislator we spoke with said that’s putting gun rights over a parent’s right to know.
“I just wanted to have a discussion, I didn’t have any illusions about it passing but want to have a discussion because people were talking about it,” Utah State Rep. Carol Spackman Moss, D-District 37, said.
After the Sandy Hook shooting, Spackman Moss wrote a bill that would have made teachers with concealed carry permits have to notify the school principal so that a parent could request their child not be in an armed classroom if that’s what they prefer.
“Particularly in the legislature, it’s like a mantra that parents' rights trump many other things, so here parents were confronted with a different priority--and that’s that gun rights seem to trump parents' rights,” Spackman Moss said.
The bill didn’t pass, and according to Bill Pedersen, who is the Director of the Utah Shooting Sports Council, it’s for the safety of everyone that concealed weapons remain a secret and on the person at all times.
“We did that specifically so they wouldn’t have to disarm, put their firearm in their vehicle if they had to, or not carry when they feel like they want to carry,” Pedersen said.
Around the same time Spackman Moss drafted her parents’ right to know bill, Pedersen began teaching a special class specifically designed to help teachers get their concealed carry permits.
“Some of our programs have allowed us to even go do training with teachers,” Pedersen said. “Our last event was right after Sandy Hook, and we had over 300 participants.”
Spackman Moss was a high school English teacher for 30 years. She said she can relate to a teacher’s desire to protect their students, but said that loaded guns should only be in the hands of the professionals.
“Given that our state only requires a 4-hour course to get a concealed carry permit, and that doesn’t include handling a gun, you don’t know the level of expertise,” she said.
So far, no legislators are stepping up and asking for current laws to change. Granite School District police are investigating the shooting, and when that investigation is complete the district will consider whether charges will be filed.