Trained ‘Guardians,’ ‘Teacher-Protectors’ with Concealed Guns can respond to Utah public school Shootings as per New Bill

The Utah Legislature enacted a bill allowing armed and trained public school employees to volunteer as guardians to respond to emergencies in Utah public schools.

HB84, a comprehensive school safety bill introduced by Rep. Ryan Wilcox, R-Ogden, contains provisions that would protect school guardians from personal liability while carrying or storing a firearm, as long as they act in good faith and are not grossly negligent. The bill also allows guardians to use a firearm if they believe it is necessary for self-defense.

If there is no school resource officer or security guard available, a school staff member with a valid concealed carry permit could offer to act as an armed guardian to intervene in case of an emergency like a school shooting or an armed intruder entering the school.

On Wednesday afternoon, the measure was revised to allow school districts to determine their own requirements for people, safety, and telecommunications equipment.

The most recent iteration of the law was approved unanimously by the Utah Senate and then endorsed by the House of Representatives by a vote of 63-9 on Wednesday, ultimately approving the bill.

HB84 mandates minimum safety protocols for schools, including panic buttons, enhanced communication systems, and mandatory reporting by state officials and individuals upon detecting threats to schools.

The legislation also mandates responsibilities for the state security chief and obligates them to create training programs for school resource officers. The SafeUT Crisis Line must transmit information to the state’s intelligence databases and specific school safety statistics must be included in the state’s yearly school discipline report.

School guardians would undergo biannual training within the school premises, supervised by the county sheriff, as stated by Wilcox in a recent committee meeting. Guardians will receive mental health assessments and training in de-escalation techniques. They would also receive training in gun proficiency.

Utah Senate approved an amended version of HB119 on Wednesday afternoon. The program aims to encourage school instructors to securely carry a firearm on school premises by offering reimbursements and liability protection.

Teachers who act as protectors would have yearly training, notwithstanding the current law in Utah that permits educators to carry concealed guns in classrooms.

Sen. Keith Grover, R-Provo, stated during the Senate discussion on HB119 that he carried a concealed weapon to school daily while serving as an educator and administrator for more than three decades.

The law was approved in the Senate with a vote of 19-6 along party lines and then passed in the House on Wednesday with a vote of 53-13.

According to HB119, individuals designated as “teacher-protectors” are required to possess a valid concealed carry permit. The state security chief will monitor every teacher in the program by gathering a photograph, name, and contact information for each instructor. This is to ensure that law enforcement personnel can identify them as authorized individuals in case of a school shooting.