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Utah town makes arming households a top priority

Published on NewsOK Modified: January 8, 2013 at 7:09 pm •  Published: January 8, 2013
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"People think small towns are a good place to live," Thompson said. "But there is more crime and drugs than you can imagine."

Thompson, who owns 78 guns he keeps locked in a safe, doesn't want teachers to act as police officers. He said some kids are "hooligans" and could overpower teachers for the guns.

Sisters Katy Harmer and Caroline Lott, however, say arming teachers would make them feel better about sending their children to the Spring City Elementary School. The co-owners of the town's coffee shop, Das Coffee, said most Spring City residents keep guns for hunting, leaving only a handful without weapons.

Angela Johnson, owner of the Sinclair gas station, said she doesn't like guns but backs the council's proposal.

"If criminals knew they would be fired against, I think it would cause pause," Johnson said.

Because the Spring City Council is stopping short of a law requiring gun ownership, elected officials won't run afoul of state law, former Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff told KSL.com.

Shurtleff said that when the Washington County town of Virgin enacted a local law in 2000 requiring households to keep guns, he warned them against trying to enforce the measure.

Spring City leaders say they got the idea from a city in Georgia that passed a similar law. In 1982, Kennesaw, Ga., made headlines by requiring heads of households to own a gun and ammunition. On its website, Kennesaw boasts that its burglary rate declined after the law took effect.

Teachers at Spring City Elementary School won't be required to attend Friday's concealed weapons training, but can if they wish, Principal Mark Thomas said.

"I don't think there is anything wrong about being educated how to use a gun," Thomas said.

But Thomas doesn't believe having more armed teachers would necessarily prevent or mitigate the damage in mass shootings. Utah law allows teachers to have concealed weapon in classrooms, but the district doesn't advocate for that, Thomas said.

"By bringing weapons into school, are we creating more problems than we are solving?" he asked. "It could create a new problem. We don't want to deal with that problem."

The proposed ordinance will be discussed at the Feb. 7 City Council meeting. A public hearing will be held three weeks later.