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Live ammunition in Utah schools debated by officials
Sunday, August 8, 2010 - 10:33pm
SALT LAKE CITY -- As state officials debated a new rule Friday, the lively discussion focused on whether live ammunition should be allowed in schools.
The rule, which was mandated by law 12 years ago by state legislators, had not been approved by the state Office of Education.
The state Board of Education Law and Policy Committee discussed the proposed rule Friday and added a sentence about live ammunition. Firearm safety courses offered on school property will not include bringing live ammunition on school property.
It has gone before the state Board of Education for further consideration.
State Board of Education member Denis R. Morrill, of Taylorsville, said firearm safety courses can be taught without having live ammunition in the classroom.
"It's not unreasonable to keep it off school grounds," Morrill said.
Carol Lear, with the Office of Law and Legislation in the Utah Office of Education, said by banning all live ammunition from school grounds someone could imply that means concealed-weapon permit holders and police officers, who legally can bring live ammunition onto school grounds.
Also, someone could interpret the rule to mean starting guns for track meets are banned or even to mean not allowing a Revolutionary War demonstration.
"The law was created 12 years ago, then Columbine happened," Lear said.
Utah Code 53A-13-106 says the state Board of Education will make a rule requiring volunteers or teachers who teach firearm safety to be certified to teach the class. It also says school boards "may require every student in grades kindergarten through six to participate in a firearm safety education class offered within the public schools under this section."
Parents can opt their children out of the class, if it is offered.
As far as anyone knows at the state Office of Education, firearm safety is currently not being taught at any of Utah's public schools.
Tamara Lowe, who represents the Utah School Board Association at the state Board of Education meetings, said she does not see how educators could fit a firearm safety course into the curriculum.
"I don't know any school districts that offer it (now) and, with the constraints we have to teach what is in the core, I can't see how we can squeeze this in," said Lowe, who also is a member of Davis School District.
The rule also will allow school districts to do background checks on employees and volunteers who may teach firearm safety. Also, schools can offer the use of classrooms to the community for firearm safety courses.