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Deseret Morning News Archives
Meg Hanssen, an attendance secretary at Brighton High School, learns to use a firearm during a class for teachers.

In law enforcement agencies, only the very best marksmen are assigned to SWAT teams. The reason is, when police encounter crisis situations they need to minimize risk to innocent bystanders. They need to hit their intended targets. So they train constantly to improve the outcomes when the unthinkable occurs.

In Utah, some schoolteachers who have concealed weapons permits carry handguns to school. Some teachers say they carry concealed weapons because they want to be able to defend themselves and others should an intruder threaten school staff or students. A proposal before the Utah Peace Officer Standards and Training Council would permit teachers with the appropriate gun training to become "special function officers," which would be akin to a school district security officer, a hospital security officer or a port of entry agent. The POST council has taken no action on the proposal.

The Utah Chiefs of Police Association opposes the proposal, noting that security of schools should be the purview of professional police peace officers. Another well-placed concern is, how are officers who respond to an armed confrontation at a school to discern who is the bad guy when there are multiple people wielding weapons?

Neither school districts nor the state's largest teacher union, the Utah Education Association, has embraced the idea of arming teachers. Some school boards have passed carefully worded policies that clarify that any employees who use weapons outside the scope of their employment do so at their own volition.

Absent some change in Utah's gun laws, people will continue to be permitted to carry concealed weapons into schools and other venues. When Deseret Morning News pollsters have surveyed Utahns on this question, a majority have opposed anyone carrying concealed weapons into schools. Unfortunately, lawmakers have all but ignored the public's will on this issue.

The Deseret Morning News editorial board has long held that guns do not belong in schools, period. The position of the Utah Chiefs of Police Association on this issue deepens our resolve.

Considering that some state lawmakers are in lock-step with the gun rights lobby, the Utah Legislature is unlikely to alter Utah's laws. In that context, it makes sense that teachers who elect to carry concealed weapons into schools undergo training above and beyond what is required by the state's concealed weapons permit laws. Odds are, if they are placed in a position where they feel they must fire a handgun on a school campus, this will occur in a crowded school classroom. Since these educators take it upon themselves to carry concealed weapons to school, they, and not their school district, should pay for the training. Those who object to these conditions always have the option of leaving their weapons at home.