Governor Gary Herbert’s Wednesday press conference included a discussion of mass shootings and how to prevent them. The exchange started with a question from Bob Bernick of Utah Policy.
“We haven’t had any school mass shootings in schools in Utah,” Bernick said. “What are you doing to try to keep that the case, that we don’t have any mass shootings in the schools?”
Herbert emphasized preventative measures already in place in Utah law.
“What we’re doing is making sure that all of our schools are prepared,” Herbert said. “There are laws on the books that require our superintendents and our principals to make sure that access to the schools is controlled.”
Herbert said he doesn’t believe these practices are being used in all Utah schools.
“We have an active shooter drill where schools should do just like a fire drill, you go through the process of lockdown and what needs to be done to protect the students,” Herbert said. “So we want to make sure that what we have in place is actually being prepared for and practiced.”
Herbert also emphasized the need to look at societal causes that inspire young people to become violent, including violent video games and media that may cause youth to become desensitized.
When asked if Utah should ban assault rifles, Herbert said the lines may be too blurred between semiautomatic and automatic weapons for effective legislature.
“I think Utah is actually in a pretty good place when it comes to second amendment rights, and with what we’re going to do, and what we should be already doing with our schools to make sure they’re safe environments for our young people,” he said.
Herbert said he supports President Trump’s proposed ban on “bump stocks,” a gun modification that allows semi-automatic firearms to fire as rapidly as automatic firearms. He also supports investigation into other aspects of the issue.
“Certainly mental health issues and background checks and all are part and parcel of what we ought to be doing to prevent violence in our schools and other places where the public assembles to,” Herbert said. “It’s a complex issue and there’s no easy answer, but we ought to have the discussion.”