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Proposed bill aims to teach middle school students about firearm safety, active shooter preparedness

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Posted at 5:58 PM, Jan 05, 2016
and last updated 2016-01-05 19:58:00-05

SALT LAKE CITY – A Woods Cross senator wants middle school students to be part of a discussion regarding gun safety.

Sen. Todd Weiler, R-Woods Cross, is set to propose a bill the educational pilot program for eighth graders.

“This type of training would say: don’t touch a gun, don’t pick it up, don’t pull the trigger, don’t point it at anybody. Just notify an adult,” Weiler said.

Students would not handle guns in the classroom. Gun experts would teach an approved curriculum. School districts and parents could choose to opt into the course.

Weiler said the reality is some kids aren’t armed with all the facts. He thinks the training can help prevent or avoid dangerous situations.

“Up in Northern Utah, we’ve had incidents where a child walks out in the garage, picks up dad’s gun who just got back from hunting and shoots his sister accidentally last year,” Weiler said. “Those stories break my heart.”

Weiler introduced the bill with only two weeks left at last year’s legislative session. It didn’t pass but he’s hopeful this time around it’ll make it through the entire process.

He’s adding a new component to the bill – teaching kids how to respond to an active shooter.

“I hope we never have an active shooter in a school in Utah, knock on wood. But if we do, I don’t think it would hurt to give kids some ideas of what they should do if there’s an armed person trying to take over the school,” Weiler said.

Dawn Davies, president of Utah’s PTA, said they aren’t taking a position on the bill yet until it’s presented at this year’s legislative session.

While the opt-in factor is a plus, Davies worries some parents may be concerned about students feeling inclined to bring firearms to school.

“It could also teach a child this isn’t the place and if we’re teaching this is not the place for guns so that’s something that the parent will have to weigh,” Davies said.

Weiler will get his first opportunity to pitch his bill to lawmakers when the legislative session begins Jan. 25.