SALT LAKE CITY — Utah parents may have the option of opting their children into a gun safety course next year through their child's school.

That's the intent of SB43, which passed the Senate last month and was given an early endorsement from the House on Tuesday.

The bill provides $75,000 to create a pilot program to teach students what to do if they encounter a firearm, what to do if a they learn of a threat against a school, and how to respond in other scenarios. The money could be used to provide live instruction or to develop a video that could be shared publicly.

Firearms would not be used in the instruction.

Bill sponsor Sen. Todd Weiler, R-Woods Cross, said the program would be optional for both schools and parents, but the instruction would be politically neutral and geared toward safety and prevention.

"I will be the first to recognize and acknowledge that gun safety training should happen in the home. But I also will be the first to acknowledge that it doesn't always happen," Weiler said. "I am just as concerned, if not more concerned, about children growing up in homes without guns as I am with children growing up in homes with guns."

It wouldn't be the first gun safety course for youth in the state. Utah's Hunter Education Program began in 1957 and is required for all residents under 21 applying for a hunting license. In the program's first 10 years, hunting accidents dropped by 85 percent statewide and 97 percent for juveniles, according to the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources.

SB43 passed the Senate in a 22-5 vote and now awaits final approval on the House floor.


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