The Utah Senate is considering a bill that would institute a course in firearms safety in the state’s middle school classrooms. The legislation would also teach students about how to be safe during an “active shooter” situation.
Republican State Sen. Todd Weiler of Woods Cross introduced the legislation in response to instances of a child accidentally firing a gun after inspecting it out of curiosity. The bill is called The Firearm Safety and Violence Prevention Public Schools.
“I think it’s always helpful for children and adults to think through what you would do in a situation before you encounter it,” Weiler said, according The Salt Lake Tribune. “Unfortunately, it is probably a necessary reality in the society we live in these days.”
Weiler’s bill would introduce a pilot program that would teach eighth-grade students about firearm safety.
The primary directive of the class would be to teach students that they should contact their nearest adult if they come across a firearm, not to play with it.
“There will be no guns in the classrooms,” Weiler added. “It’s more, if you happen to encounter a gun, this is what you should and shouldn’t do.”
The pilot program would also provide instructions for how to respond to a gunman attack,
“If we’re going to talk about guns while we’re in school, I think it would be silly not to be able to mention something about an active shooter situation,” Weiler concluded.
The program, if passed, would cost $75,000 to implement and grants parents the right to opt their child out of the course.
Weiler told the Standard Examiner that he’s optimistic that his bill will pass and become law in 2016. While the program would only be taught in a select number of middle schools, the State Senator hopes that if it proves successful then funding will be increased to bring the program to all Utah eighth-graders.
He has not confirmed which organization would provide the training for students.
“We’ll put the training and teaching out on a request for proposal,” the state senator said.
Utah Political Capitol, a website dedicated to chronicling legislation being considered by the state’s lawmakers, gave Weiler’s bill a B grade. They note that the program would be helpful in preparing young people to respond to gun violence but also point out that it would be more productive to create legislation that would actually curb mass shootings.