- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Gun-safety courses could be offered to students as young as 13 in Utah if a state senator succeeds in adding a voluntary course to next year’s curriculum.

Sen. Todd Weiler, a Republican representing the city of Woods Cross, has proposed a pilot program in Utah schools that would provide eighth-grade students with information on firearm safety and violence prevention. Late last month, he introduced State Bill 43, “Firearm Safety and Violence Prevention in Public Schools,” and the state’s financial analysts are considering the proposal.

“I think it’s always helpful for children and adults to think through what you would do in a situation before you encounter it,” Mr. Weiler told The Salt Lake Tribune. “Unfortunately, it is probably a necessary reality in the society we live in these days.”

If his colleagues in the Legislature agree, Utah could green-light the senator’s plan to put $75,000 toward a program that would teach mostly 13- and 14-year-olds what to do if they ever come across a firearm.

“Even if someone doesn’t have a gun in their home,” Mr. Weiler told The Tribune, “odds are very likely that a neighbor or a friend’s parents do.”

No actual firearms would be used in the course, and students would need a parent or guardian’s signature before they could participate, he said.

After a wave of mass shootings, however, the class wouldn’t end with basic firearm dos and don’ts, the senator said. In addition, Mr. Weiler said, students would be taught how to respond in the event they end up face to face with a gunman.

Late last month, authorities in Plain City, Utah, arrested a 16-year-old who was suspected of bringing a gun to school to shoot a classmate.

“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,” he said.

If the plan is approved, the state attorney general’s office would hammer out the details of the course in collaboration with the State Board of Education and the Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice Interim Committee. Mr. Weiler’s proposal, as written, calls for getting the pilot program off the ground during fiscal 2017.

President Obama announced Tuesday a suite of executive actions he is implementing on a federal level in an attempt to curb gun violence nationwide.

“Hundreds of law enforcement officers have been shot to death protecting their communities,” the White House said in a statement Monday. “And too many children are killed or injured by firearms every year, often by accident.”

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