Is Your Daughter’s Teacher Packing Heat? Utah Gun Laws and the Classroom

Salt Lake City criminal lawyer

School districts and charter schools in Utah may have one very important difference outside of academic standards and student performance – guns in the classroom. State laws bar public elementary, middle and high schools from establishing “gun free” zones. Those rules would otherwise keep teachers and administrators with valid concealed weapons permits from bringing their firearms into the classroom. In Utah, every educator and public school employee can pack heat on school grounds, if they have a permit enabling them to do so. After the tragic events in Columbine High School in Colorado and the latest at Sandy Hook Elementary – is Utah, the model the rest of the nation should follow? Our Salt Lake City weapons crimes attorneys look into it.

Where are the Guns in Schools?

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For teachers and other school employees to carry firearms, the weapons must be concealed and “readily accessible for immediate use.” Students in teachers’ classrooms cannot be able to tell that these people have guns on their person. That usually means employees can’t leave firearms in their desks or places that would be away from their bodies, though storing them in a purse or small bag they carry could be acceptable depending on the individual districts’ interpretation of the rules.

The point is; a firearm must be in the possession of the person permitted to use it at all times. Failing to do so can result in immediate disciplinary action – up to and including termination – for the violator.

In addition, anyone visiting a school with a valid concealed weapons permit can carry a gun into a Utah school under the same laws. The rules are different for private schools, which can choose to ban weapons on their campuses. Same goes for places of a higher learning, including the University of Utah.

Brandishing a Concealed Weapon

It’s a misdemeanor in Utah to brandish a concealed weapon in a threatening manner in the presence of two or more people. A teacher pulling out a gun to threaten students is likely to lose their teaching certification in addition to fines and possible jail time, though the exact circumstances of each case vary. We can speak in hypothetical situations all day, but until something actually happens, we have no real facts to go on.

Information Available to the Public

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Under state law, teachers and other employees do not have a requirement to inform administrators when they carry a concealed firearm on school grounds. In complying with this law, districts essentially fly blind as to the number of loaded firearms in public schools across the state on a given day. This, to me, presents an enormous concern for liability, which seems reflected in the efforts of some nonprofit groups to change the laws to allow, at the very least, administrators the ability to ask their teachers who have a gun on them.

Facing a gun-related charge can be a serious criminal offense carrying jail time ranging in the decades. You need an experienced legal defense team with real courtroom knowledge to affect a relentless defense of your innocence. Contact our Utah criminal defense law firm immediately for a consultation about your case.


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