EDUCATION + SCHOOLS

Lawmaker proposes armed guardians at Utah schools

Feb 6, 2024, 9:00 PM | Updated: Feb 7, 2024, 8:50 am

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FILE: The Capitol is pictured in Salt Lake City on Monday, Jan. 29, 2024. (Kristin Murphy,/Deseret News)

(Kristin Murphy,/Deseret News)

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SALT LAKE CITY — School employees could get a new status as armed volunteer guardians if the state legislature passes a new bill.

HB84 was proposed by Rep. Ryan Wilcox, R-Ogden. It would allow teachers and principals to sign up as armed guardians to help protect schools from threats.

They’d offer this type of support alongside school resource officers.

Wilcox said he got the idea for this bill after visiting with the parents of teenagers killed in a school shooting. Namely, the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Florida. 

The Sunshine State has had a guardian program since the 2018 shooting at Parkland.

Max Schachter, whose son Alex died in the Parkland shooting, spoke to the Utah House Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice Committee last week in support of HB84.

“Guardians are basically force multipliers. An SRO cannot be everywhere at every time. And even around the country, for some of our rural communities, law enforcement could be ten or 20 minutes away,” Schachter said.

Guardians would not face civil or criminal liability if they used their guns to defend against a threat they perceived as real.

This bill requires volunteer teachers and principals to pass a mental health check and receive their concealed carry permit.

“There’s no one solution, there’s no one panacea to make schools safer. It has to be a layered approach. A holistic approach with redundancies built in,” Schachter said as he urged lawmakers not to be complacent about school security.

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Lawmaker proposes armed guardians at Utah schools