SALT LAKE CITY — The day after a school shooting that killed 17 students and adults at a high school in Parkland, Florida, the Utah Senate gave final passage Thursday to legislation that allows school districts to install bolt locks on classroom doors for use during lockdowns.
Building and fire codes had prohibited their use in schools, Sen. Todd Weiler, R-Woods Cross, sponsor of SB87, said in committee debate.
Weiler said he introduced the legislation after a constituent told him that he wanted to donate the locks to his daughter's elementary school. He was referred to the principal, who told him to ask school district officials. District-level administrators referred him to public safety officials.
Under SB87, local school authorities can decide for themselves whether to install the devices. Weiler's interest in sponsoring the legislation, which would create an exemption in the code, was to enhance school safety, he said.
"I'm hoping that by removing this legal barricade, more schools in Utah will be able to take whatever steps they deem appropriate to protect students," Weiler said after the vote.
The bill's passage comes in the aftermath of the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Wednesday afternoon.
The 19-year-old gunman, a former student, allegedly gunned down students and staff with a rifle after activating a fire alarm, sending people outside, officials said.7 comments on this story
He fired repeatedly outside the school and then followed students and staff who went back into the building, where people who'd heard the shots had taken shelter, according to CNN.
"There, he roamed the halls he knew so well, allegedly targeting those huddled in classrooms and then blending in with the students and staff evacuating the school," CNN reported.
The suspect, identified as Nikolas Cruz, was arrested in the neighboring community of Coral Springs later in the day.
Weiler's bill provides no funding for locks, nor does it require schools to install them.