Public schools could install bolt locks on classroom doors for use during school lockdowns under a bill endorsed Tuesday by the Utah Legislature’s Senate Education Committee.
Current building and fire codes prohibit their use in schools, said Sen. Todd Weiler, R-Woods Cross, sponsor of SB87.
Weiler said he introduced the legislation after a constituent told him that he wanted to donate the locks to his daughter’s elementary school. He was referred to the principal, who told him to ask school district officials. District-level administrators referred him to public safety officials.
Weiler said local school authorities could decide for themselves whether to install the devices. His interest in sponsoring the legislation, which would create an exemption in the code, is to enhance school safety, he said.
“This is not a vendor bill,” Weiler said. He says he has received no campaign contribution from Anchorman Inc., the company featured in a video he presented during the committee meeting.
Utah State Fire Marshal Coy Porter said many classroom doors have single locks, which would likely discourage school shooters since most are “opportunistic.”
For example, Tuesday’s school shooting in Kentucky that killed two students and injured 17 others occurred in the high school commons area.
Porter said the locks Weiler refers to are very expensive and Utah has hundreds of schools, “so we’re talking about a lot of doors.”
Porter’s primary concern is that the locks would be used inappropriately by students to barricade doors, he said. Some of the locks have tools that enable them to be unlocked from the outside, which could mitigate that concern, the fire marshal said.
Weiler said his bill provides no funding for locks nor does it require schools to install them.
It’s a matter of local control, he said.
“It doesn’t sit well with me (that) we have taken that decision away from anyone,” Weiler said.