Any Granite School District employee who brings a gun onto school property risks suspension or dismissal according to an administrative order distributed over the weekend.
"This is not a prohibition that applies to everyone," Granite spokesman Kent Gardner said. But as a condition of employment, all bus drivers, teachers, secretaries and school volunteers must leave any guns they're carrying - even if they have permits - at home.Local gun rights advocates said they will meet Tuesday with state officials and a National Rifle Association representative to talk about Granite's decision, said Scott Engen, government liaison for the Utah Shooting Sports Council.
The district is trying to demonize and portray as "Rambo vigilantes" those people who have legally obtained weapons and the permits to carry them, Engen said.
"The idea that a normal, peaceful person will turn into something between Barney Fife and Charles Manson merely because they're carrying a firearm is ridiculous," Engen said. "It's rubbish."
But Gardner said he believes most people understand the school environment creates special circumstances. Strict policies prohibit students from possessing weapons, and the administrative action makes district policy consistent.
"We want no firearms on campus," said Hans Olsen, Granite's student services director.
While there have been no documented incidents, officials said there are indications some teachers and staff members are starting to carry firearms to school, he said. Olsen acknowledges the school climate is becoming more intimidating, and em-pa-thizes with teachers who hear about incidents of violence in the school setting.
But the district's police department provides protection and supervision, Olsen said. "We don't want to get into a posture where teachers are arming themselves."
Teachers can be assured that "harsh steps" will be taken with students who have guns or make threats at school, Olsen said.
Comments earlier this month by gun rights advocates got district officials thinking about the action, Gardner said.
In a legislative study session, an NRA official and Engen said anyone - teachers included - should be allowed to carry a gun. That right is supported by the 2nd Amendment and the state's concealed weapons law.
In that session, the state school board's attorney, Doug Bates, said local school boards should decide whether employees should be allowed to bring concealed weapons to school if they wish.
Granite's policy shows little confidence in those who carry concealed weapons, Engen said. It also overlooks the fact that troublemakers are the ones causing trouble with guns. And to get a concealed weapons permit, he said, "you have to be something on the positive side of a choirboy."