Teacher Accidentally Shoots Herself With Perfectly Legal Gun at School

teacher shoots leg Utah
Around 8:45 AM on Thursday, a teacher in the Westbrook Elementary School in Taylorsville, Utah was shot in the leg when she was in a faculty bathroom before classes started. The good news is that no one else was injured, and the teacher remains in "good condition" at Intermountain Medical Center in Murray, Utah. The bad news -- at least for responsible gun owners and worried parents everywhere -- is that she shot herself. Accidentally. With her perfectly legal firearm.

The teacher, who was not identified, managed to shoot herself in the leg when the weapon was discharged, and suffered an injury when the bullet entered and exited her leg. By all accounts this seems to have been a tragic accident, but it's interesting to know she wasn't required by any law to notify the school that she was armed in the first place.

 

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Utah allows people with concealed-weapons permits to carry guns in public schools, and teachers aren't required to tell anyone whether or not they have a gun. The Granite School District does require teachers who carry guns at school to keep the weapons with them at all times, including the bathroom. According to the school communications director,

Permit holders are not required to disclose their status as a permit holder, and/or whether they are carrying a weapon or not, to their employer, or in this case, the principal or school district.

I'm guessing it's possible this teacher fumbled the weapon somehow when she was arranging her purse -- or perhaps while lowering her pants with her gun on the belt? However it happened, most gun owners I know would say the weapon wasn't being handled correctly for it to accidentally go off. If proper safety measures are being kept, there shouldn't be any kind of easy way to put a hole in your own leg, whether you're answering nature's call or not.

I don't believe you can put any law in place that addresses every theoretical instance of carelessness or criminal intent, but can you imagine what our collective reaction would be if she had happened to accidentally shoot a student instead of herself? The Utah concealed firearm course required to get a permit is a four-hour class that covers handgun safety rules, handgun parts and operation, ammunition, fundamentals of shooting, safe firearms handling, Utah criminal and traffic code,  U.S. federal firearms regulations, BCI administration policy, practical and legal considerations, and more -- but it of course does nothing to guarantee those who pass it won't make foolish or harmful decisions somewhere down the road.

My gut feeling is that that someone who's allowed to carry a gun in a school, no questions asked, should be held to a higher standard. But then again, where do you really draw the line? What if she'd been in a restaurant and accidentally shot someone? Or a zoo, or in her home, or walking down the street, or …?

You can't regulate away the possibility of mistakes. We all have driver's licenses and yet we get in accidents all the time. But as a gun owner who's also a parent, there's nothing about this story that sits well with me.

What do you think about this? Do you believe teachers should be able to carry concealed weapons in schools?

Image via ronguillen/Flickr

 

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