SB43: Bill would require firearm safety training in schools

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SALT LAKE CITY — ┬áThe Utah Senate is set to vote on that introduce a firearm safety and violence prevention course in public school programs.

Sen. Todd Weiler, R- Bountiful, is sponsoring SB43, which would create a pilot program that would provide instruction to public school students in the 8th grade on firearm safety and violence prevention. The training would be similar to the instruction that students receive about drug and alcohol safety through the anti-drug D.A.R.E program, or the “stop, drop, and roll” training. The bill passed a Senate committee and set for a first vote by the full Senate.

Sen. Todd Weiler, sponsor of the Firearm Safety Bill.
Sen. Todd Weiler, sponsor of the Firearm Safety Bill.

Weiler has a personal reason behind supporting this bill. In 2014, Weiler heard of an incident where two young girls had returned home from their church meetings to find their father’s hunting gun lying on the table. The father had recently returned home from a hunting trip. One of the sisters picked up her father’s gun and accidentally aimed it at her sister. The young girl was killed.

“It’s a tragic accident,” Weiler said. “which is why this sort of training is really important.”

The training that the bill proposes would not teach students how to use a firearm, but what to do in a situation if they were to encounter one. They would also be trained on situations involving live gunmen attacks.

“There are two things people should know about the program” said Weiler, “One, it is not mandatory. Two, there will be no guns used in the classroom.”

The proposed bill would provide schools with funding so that they could hire and bring in outside training for the students. Weiler said that children between the ages of 12-18 become more and more unattended and are faced with situations that they don’t always know how to handle.

“Kids don’t naturally know what to do” he said, “At this age they are going into other people’s houses to babysit or be with friends. There is a chance that they could come across a gun, and they need to know what to do and what not to do in that situation.”

If passed, SB43 would allow the State Board of Education to work closely with the Office of the Attorney General to oversee the program and evaluate its effectiveness in the schools.

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