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Arming Teachers: Utah, Mountain West States Do What President Trump Is Considering

Utah and other Mountain West states have made exceptions to federal law on allowing teachers and other school employees to carry firearms on campus.

President Donald Trump is considering easing restrictions so that teachers can be armed to prevent school shootings. It’s a idea that already has traction in several Mountain West states, including Utah.

“We’re not arming teachers,” said Clark Aposhian, a lobbyist for the gun-rights group, the Utah Shooting Sports Council. “We’re just not disarming them.”

Idaho, Montana and Wyoming also make exceptions to a federal ban on firearms in school zones, and they allow their teachers and other personnel to carry guns as long as local authorities, like school districts, sign off. Aposhian said the shooting in Florida could have been prevented with policies like these.

“If the coach or one of those unarmed security guards had actually had a firearm,” he said, “they may have been able to stop this in its tracks right there and then.”

Colorado is an outlier in the region.

Tom Mauser is spokesman for Colorado Ceasefire. It’s a group that formed in response to the Columbine massacre, which claimed Mauser’s son, Daniel, as one of its victims.

Arming teachers is “a very simplistic answer to a very complex problem that we have in America.”

“It’s important for our teachers to be protecting the students in the classrooms,” he said, “not leaving the classroom with a weapon to stop a shooter.”

He mentioned that Colorado lawmakers voted down a proposal earlier this week to allow conceal-carry permit holders in the schools. Meanwhile, rural school districts in Colorado have sidestepped the guns-in-schools ban by designating some teachers as school security officers.

Judy Fahys has reported in Utah for two decades, covering politics, government and business before taking on environmental issues. She loves covering Utah, where petroleum-pipeline spills, the nation’s radioactive legacy and other types of pollution provide endless fodder for stories. Previously, she worked for the Salt Lake Tribune in Utah, and reported on the nation’s capital for States News Service and the Scripps League newspaper chain. She is a longtime member of the Society of Environmental Journalists and Investigative Reporters and Editors. She also spent an academic year as a research fellow in the Knight Science Journalism program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In her spare time, she enjoys being out in the environment, especially hiking, gardening and watercolor painting.
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