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State Commission Proposes New Laws To Prevent School Shootings

Utah Department of Public Safety / Twitter
Public Safety Commissioner Keith Squires speaks at a press conference June 20 on the Utah Safe Schools Commission's recommendations.

A Utah school safety commission formed to address school violence is suggesting expanded mental health services for high risk students and other recommendations ahead of next year’s legislative session.

Speaking at a press conference on Wednesday at the Capitol, Rep. Ray Ward, R-Bountiful, said the catalyst behind the Utah Safe School Commission was the Marjory Stoneman Douglas high school shooting in Florida last February that left 17 dead.

"It caught the whole nation’s attention — as well it should have — and caused everyone to stop and think are we as an individual, as a parent, as a legislator, as a community, as a state, are we doing everything that we can to keep our students safe in the schools?" he said.

Other recommendations by the commission include compelling the state to send updated records to the federal background check system, as well as reviving a bill from last session that would allow law enforcement to take guns from a person posing an imminent threat to public safety, a measure commonly referred to as a "red flag law."

Utah House Speaker Greg Hughes said there's no silver bullet for making schools safer.

"It's a very difficult issue," he said. "It's one that has a lot of different moving parts and is one that certainly deserved the amount of study and work."

Commission members said there was disagreement over several of the recommendations.

Utah Safe Schools Commission Report by KUER News

Bob Nelson is a graduate of the University of Utah with a BA in mass communications. He began his radio career at KUER in 1978 when it was still in Kingsbury Hall. That’s also where he met his wife, Maria Shilaos, in 1981. Bob left KUER for commercial radio where he worked for 25 years, and he is thrilled to be back at KUER. Bob and his family are part of an explorer group, fondly known as The Hordes and Masses, which has been seeking out ghost towns and little-known places in Utah for more than twenty years.
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