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Romney says states should have final say on arming teachers

Romney says states should have final say on arming teachers

(Matt Rourke, AP File Photo)

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Mitt Romney said there are a number of things officials should look at to prevent school shootings but wouldn't say Tuesday if he thinks more states should let teachers carry guns, as Utah does.

Romney, who is seeking a U.S. Senate seat in Utah held by retiring Republican Orrin Hatch, told reporters that he knows some Utah teachers with concealed carry permits are able to provide security in their classrooms but it should be up to individual states to decide whether they'll permit that.

Lawmakers in several states and President Donald Trump have suggested arming teachers in the wake of a school shooting in Parkland, Florida two weeks ago that killed 17.

Utah is among at least eight states that allow, or don't specifically prohibit, concealed weapons in K-12 schools, according to the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence.

It's unclear how many Utah teachers carry guns because teachers are not required to disclose that they are carrying a weapon. School administrators cannot bar concealed permit holders from carrying their weapons in schools and are prohibited from asking teachers or other faculty if they carry a gun.

Romney, who spoke to reporters at the Utah state Capitol after meeting privately with Republican state legislators, said officials need to look at securing school buildings and intervening with young people who may have done something alarming but haven't committed a crime.

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"We really don't have something right now between just kicking them out of school and putting them in jail," the former Republican presidential candidate said. "We need to find ways to help these young people in this limbo state. For instance, when they've done something really frightening but haven't taken action which would be harmful."

Romney also said he'd support beefing up federal background-checks for those buying firearms, but said most of the solutions should come from states.

One of his Democratic opponents in the race, Salt Lake County Council member Jenny Wilson, has criticized Romney's comments on the shootings as timid and noted that he signed a ban on assault weapons in 2004 when he was governor of Massachusetts.

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