The Newtown, Connecticut Sandy Hook tragedy has brought a renewed focus on the issue of guns in schools in states all over the country, and now the debate has come to Utah. The state legislators are considering a bill that would allow parents to find out if the teacher in their children’s classroom is carrying a weapon, and if so would also allow them to request that the student be moved to another room.
According to The Salt Lake Tribune, the debate over the measure is putting in conflict two points of view that are close to the state’s residents’ hearts: the freedom from state interference with how a parent chooses to raise their children and the teachers’ right to bear arms.
It is a sensible and necessary way to accommodate the various beliefs parents have about guns. Some parents do not feel safe around guns and do not want their children in a classroom where the teacher is packing. Other parents believe having an armed teacher makes their children safer in the event a person bent on doing harm attacks the school.
Carol Spackman Moss who is writing the bill says that the law isn’t a restriction on the teachers’ Second Amendment right to arm themselves. Many parents might not have been aware of this, but teachers in Utah have been allowed to conceal-carry guns in school for a long time, although few take advantage of it, although the numbers are expected to shift in the wake of the Sandy Hook shooting.
The Sandy Hook tragedy has polarized the debate over guns, especially over guns in schools, and teachers have shown an increased interest in learning more about arming themselves. The Utah Shooting Sports Council co-hosted a free concealed weapons class for teachers after the Sandy Hook shooting that attracted more than 150 Utah educators and school workers, and similar classes have been popular elsewhere.
Moss explains that – like teachers – parents have very tightly held beliefs about firearms around their children. There’s a matter of them being dangerous and making a classroom less safe. Some also simply don’t believe in personal ownership of firearms and don’t feel comfortable that their children could be within feet of a weapon.
Allowing parents the choice to pull their kids from classrooms where the teacher is armed isn’t actually placing any limits of the teachers’ right to carry. All the new bill would do is restore a measure of balance between the rights of the teachers and the rights of the parents.