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No Changes Expected To Utah's Gun Laws, But Schools Could Get Stronger Locks

Julia Ritchey
Flags are at half-staff outside the Utah Capitol to honor the victims of a school shooting in Parkland. Fla.

Utah lawmakers aren’t poised to make any sweeping changes to gun laws in the wake of another fatal school shooting in the U.S.

Flags were lowered to half-staff outside the Utah Capitol and lawmakers observed a moment of silence on Thursday for the 17 victims of the high school shooting in Parkland, Florida.

But Senate President Wayne Niederhauser told reporters that the Legislature isn’t likely to move toward more gun control.

“Short of an outlaw of all guns, you’re going to be faced with somebody that has the ability to have a weapon,” he said. “That’s a Second Amendment right. So probably the focus should be more toward trying to solve some of mental illness issues that we have.”

No major changes are proposed to Utah’s gun laws this year. But last year, lawmakers lowered the age for a concealed carry permit to anyone over 18.

On Thursday, lawmakers approved legislation that would provide an exception to building codes to allow schools to install high-security locks in case of a shooting or lockdown.

Sen. Todd Weiler, the bill’s sponsor, said the increasing frequency of school shootings means districts need flexibility to secure their buildings.

“[The] number of school shootings with active shooter situations has more than doubled over the past decade,” he said.


Julia joined KUER in 2016 after a year reporting at the NPR member station in Reno, Nev. During her stint, she covered battleground politics, school overcrowding, and any story that would take her to the crystal blue shores of Lake Tahoe. Her work earned her two regional Edward R. Murrow awards. Originally from the mountains of Western North Carolina, Julia graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill in 2008 with a degree in journalism. She’s worked as both a print and radio reporter in several states and several countries — from the 2008 Beijing Olympics to Dakar, Senegal. Her curiosity about the American West led her to take a spontaneous, one-way road trip to the Great Basin, where she intends to continue preaching the gospel of community journalism, public radio and podcasting. In her spare time, you’ll find her hanging with her beagle Bodhi, taking pictures of her food and watching Patrick Swayze movies.
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