The Firearm Safety and Violence Prevention Pilot Program, ratified in May 2016, aims to teach students and teachers about firearm safety protocols.
During a press conference held in late August, Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes announced a new program branded L.E.T.S. Stay Safe, providing educators and parents the opportunity to teach kids how to react in dangerous situations involving firearms.
The Utah Legislature tasked the attorney general’s office and the Utah Board of Education with creating and releasing firearm safety and violence prevention material to support the new code, known as Utah State Code 53A-13-106.5. Reyes and State Sen. Todd Weiler are among several politicians and lawmakers who endorse the L.E.T.S. Stay Safe program.
A new firearm safety video released last month demonstrates step-by-step ways to prevent unintended gun violence related to children and young adults.
“[The video] was specifically crafted that way. The demographic was given to the producers, the script developers,” says Will Fowlke, training specialist and firearm instructor at the attorney general’s office.
The video and other free program materials target students in grades 5-12. Parents and legal guardians of students must sign a written consent form before students are allowed to participate in the program.
“This program is voluntary, so we are relying on the media to publicize it,” says Scott Carver, the director of the attorney general’s training center.
Carver also believes that more community members will become knowledgeable about intense situations and how to handle them as a result of this program.
“We want to expand it beyond just schools, to the families and organizations,” Carver continues.
L.E.T.S. Stay Safe is making its way through Utah schools. In-school resource or peace officers will teach the program. In addition, the code states the teachings should present neutral political statements on guns.
The assistant attorney general’s office says their focus is to get media attention on the program.
“We hope that there’s some organic development, that parents will go on the website with the whole family and use the stand-alone video [to facilitate] a discussion,” Fowlke says.
While Salt Lake Community College has its own active shooter training video for students and staff, the campus community can still benefit from L.E.T.S. Stay Safe.
“Our hope is, and what I would ask you, is to encourage your college students to learn a little bit about this program, and then share it with their younger siblings,” Fowlke adds.
All materials for this L.E.T.S. Stay Safe initiative, including the video and Utah code, are accessible to the public through the attorney general’s state website.