SALT LAKE CITY – Score one for Utahns who advocate for gun rights over their neighbors who favor gun control regarding the the issue of arming and training public school teachers and other employees.

The fight was over House Bill 84, which Gov. Spencer Cox signed into law on Mar. 12.

That measure will now fund tactical training for Utah public school teachers and employees who are willing to defend their students and classrooms with guns in the event of an emergency.

Both sides of the controversial question ratcheted up their opposing viewpoints and marshaled their supporters, but Cox fell out on the side of gun rights advocates.

On Mar. 4, gun control advocates gathered at the Capitol here, calling on Cox to veto the bill that was passed by lawmakers in the Senate unanimously and by a vote of 63-to-9 along mostly party lines in the House during final week of the general session of the Legislature.

With some teachers among their ranks, the protestors insisted that the proposed half-day training program offered by the Department of Public Safety would not adequately prepare teachers to respond in a crisis situation, which could lead to accidental student injuries.

The Utah Shooting Sports Council meanwhile urged its statewide members to contact the governor’s office via e-mails, texts and calls in support of HB 84, which apparently had the desired effect.

Cox had expressed concern about school safety and generally supported the idea of arming and training school staff members.

In addition to the so-called “school guardian” program, the law proposed by Rep. Ryan Wilcox (R-Ogden) also mandates a comprehensive approach to school safety, including security reviews of schools, single points of entrance, security cameras, secure windows on ground-floor classrooms and the statewide adoption of law enforcement practices.

Overall, the USSC considers the 2024 legislative session to be a success. With more than 30 gun-related bills considered during the recent session, USSC chair Clark Aposhian explains that the “bad bills” – including those with what he calls the usual misguided and ineffective infringements on Utah’s 2nd Amendment rights – were voted down by Republicans.

In addition to House Bill 84, those proposals considered “good bills” by Aposhian are House Bill 406 which would block credit card companies from tracking legal firearms purchases; House Bill 223 which would reduce penalties for people who take firearms into airports by mistake; and House Bill 119 which adds liability protections for the teacher-protector program.

Cox has not indicated whether he will sign the latter three bills.

Utah is one of only 16 states that allow school personnel to carry firearms on the campuses of public elementary, middle and high schools. Those employees must have permission from school administrators and posses a valid concealed carry permit.

Teachers who chose to join the proposed school guardian program will be required to carry a firearm on their person or locked in a biometric safe, a device can only be unlocked by unique biological data like a fingerprint or retinal scan.

The Legislature will appropriate about $100 million one-time funding for HB 84 and $2.1 million in on-going funding for its comprehensive school safety program, according to Sen. Ann Millner (R-Ogden), the majority whip in the Senate.

The Utah Shooting Sport Council is Utah’s leading gun rights lobby. Its members are dedicated to the preservation, protection and defense of the individual right of all Utahns to keep and bear arms.

USSC also promotes gun safety as well as the recreational use of firearms.

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