Lawmakers launch Utah Safe Schools Commission

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The issue of school safety has reached a point of “ripeness,” Rep. Mike Kennedy, R-Alpine, says.

“This is the time to do something,” said Kennedy, R-Alpine, a family physician and attorney, said Thursday as he introduced the members of a diverse, nonpartisan commission that will meet regularly to develop recommendations to be forwarded to the Utah Legislature.

The commission will meet behind closed doors and issue no reports until it reaches its final recommendations, possibly before the start of the next school year, he said.

“Actually what I want is just great ideas and actionable items that are not dependent on some 30-page report that no one is going to read,” Kennedy said.

The commission is “small enough to be manageable, intimate enough to actually have the conversations that we need to have,” he said.

All options are on the table, the lawmaker said, which could include technology, architecture, exploring the psyches of people who commit violence as well as other considerations. He would not comment on possibly banning the sales of certain firearms.

Clark Aposhian, chairman of the Utah Shooting Sports Council and a commission member, said he looks forward to some “great dialogue. Everything is going to be on the table. As we dialogue and talk these things we’re going to identify the actual problems and trust in the solutions.”

Just as Utah has developed a template to address its nation-leading rate of youth suicide, “we’re looking forward to hopefully making a template for school safety across this nation as well.”

The commission includes lawmakers from both parties, educators, a school architect, academics, the superintendent of the Utah State Hospital and a representative of a gun owners organization among others.

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