EDUCATION + SCHOOLS

Proposed bill would provide incentives to teachers carrying guns in Utah schools

Jan 10, 2024, 3:00 PM

teachers get gun training for utah schools...

Detective Justin Mortensen shows schoolteachers how to stand when firing a gun during a class at the Utah County Sheriff's Office in Spanish Fork on Wednesday, June 12, 2019. (Laura Seitz/Deseret News)

(Laura Seitz/Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — One of the bills Utah lawmakers may get a chance to vote on this session would provide incentives for teachers and other staffers willing to carry a firearm in school.

Rep. Tim Jimenez is working on H.B. 119, which he said emphasizes training for teachers and other staffers who want to carry a gun while in school.

“We have a lot of teachers that carry anyway. Why not get them the training they deserve so they can feel more confident and feel like they can actually perform to a higher level?”

The bill would provide three things for teachers and other staffers willing to carry a firearm in school; legal protection, training and storage funding.

Legal protection for teachers using guns at school in Utah

Jimenez said using a gun could open a teacher up to legal liability, even if they’re only using it to protect themselves or their students. Jimenez said that legal protection is necessary to help the teacher or staffer focus should there ever be a reason for them to use their gun. 

“If you have to use your firearm defensively, we want to make sure that you’re not pulling it out and the only thing you’re thinking about is a bunch of lawyers and a bunch of legal issues. But that you can focus on defending the children during that time.”

The bill would give them better peace of mind that they can act accordingly, without worrying about possible legal liabilities.

“Just like a good samaritan law where if you’re trying to help someone in good faith performing CPR, the Heimlich maneuver you can’t be held liable because you’re trying in good faith. We want to cover them in that same way.”

“Absolutely essential” training

Jimenez said a second key factor of the bill would be to provide a training requirement. Besides just making sure someone can handle and be safe with a gun, he said the training would focus on how to be tactically defensive. 

“As we already have firearms in our schools, I think it’s absolutely essential that we provide an opportunity for our teachers, the personnel that are working there and interacting there, to make sure that they have the training they need to be prepared to defend and protect our children.”

One key aspect of that training would be to make sure teachers learn to defend their specific classrooms, rather than the entire school.

“We don’t need 100 people running around, without badges, trying to defend our schools. No one’s going to know who’s supposed to be there [and] who isn’t. That would introduce chaos. The idea is let’s do this within each classroom.”

Safe storage

If passed, the bill would provide schools $500 to allow teachers participating in the training program to have a biometric gun safe. Biometric gun safes require a fingerprint to open.

Jimenez said he hopes to have the bill ready for this session but will hold off until next year if it isn’t.

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Proposed bill would provide incentives to teachers carrying guns in Utah schools