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Utah lawmaker calls for gun safety classes in schools

Posted at 4:58 PM, Jul 19, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-19 22:02:45-04

SALT LAKE CITY — A Utah lawmaker is renewing his call for gun safety education in Utah high schools after a teen was accidentally shot and killed over the weekend.

"People at age 21, they can go buy a firearm at that age," said State Rep. Rex Shipp (R). "And so, gosh if you haven't had any training on how to safely handle them, it can be real concerning."

Early Saturday morning, 13-year-old Lance Moorhead and a 15-year-old friend were playing with a handgun. The 15-year-old accidentally pulled the trigger, shooting and killing Moorhead.

Shipp sponsored House Bill 258 during the 2021 legislative session. The bill would create a three-year gun safety education pilot program for Utah high schoolers.

"I thought this would be good legislation to just teach safety for those that have some interest in firearms," he added. "It would be an elective course and would teach them how to handle firearms and a number of things."

According to Shipp, the classes would be taught by trained professionals, and would utilize plastic replicas in the classroom. Eventually, students would head to a firing range to work with real, loaded guns.

"Certain kids are never going to be interested in firearms. But those that are could choose to take a class and learn to handle them," Shipp said. "Both handguns, rifles, shotguns. It would be the whole works of all the types of firearms."

H.B. 258 made it through the committee and House floor debate but was shot down in the Senate.

READ: Hundreds of new 2021 laws take effect in Utah

Shipp said with last year's record gun sales, and incidents like the accidental shooting, there is a need for some type of gun safety education program for youth in Utah.

"When people have firearms in their homes, they need to be sure they're safe," Shipp added. "They should be locked up in a safe. If they're going to have firearms that are more easily available, in case you have an intrusion of some sort, then they need to make sure that their kids know how to safely handle them and know where they are and make sure that they're safe."

He acknowledged that the gun safety classes may not be right for all Utah schools, but said he at least wants them to have the option.

"I'm planning to bring that back this next session," Shipp said. "Maybe this is something that has brought enough attention to the situation that maybe people will be more supportive."