Salt Lake City
Authorities say a Utah sixth-grader brought a .22 caliber pistol to school Monday reportedly encouraged by his parents to "defend himself and his friends" in case of another mass shooting like the one last week in Newtown, Conn.
Officials say the West Kearns Elementary School sixth-grader packed the .22 caliber handgun, along with ammunition, in his backpack and brought it to class.
According to Utah's Fox13, the 11-year-old boy allegedly told other students his parents encouraged him to bring the gun to school for protection following the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School on Friday.
"He has alluded in his defense that he brought it as a way to defend himself and his friends if there was a Connecticut-style incident at the school," Granite School District Spokesman Ben Horsley told the Salt Lake Tribune.
Granite School District administrators said staff confronted the West Kearns Elementary School sixth-grader in class after hearing from two classmates that he had a weapon and seized the unloaded gun and ammunition from his backpack toward the end of the school day Monday.
“Once the teacher knew there was a weapon in the classroom, the student was apprehended in 30 to 45 seconds and immediately brought down to the office and the police were on site within five to 10 minutes,” said Horsley.
Authorities have not released the child’s name and will not say where he got the gun. No one was injured.
Horsley says school police are also investigating reports that the boy pointed the gun at another child, MSN news writes.
“At recess, he pointed a gun to my head and said he was going to kill me,” said Isabel Rios, one of the boy’s fellow 6th grade students.
Horsley says such accounts haven't been confirmed.
Police were investigating to determine what the boy’s parents’ involvement may have been in the incident. He has been suspended and was taken to a juvenile hall. Criminal charges may be filed by the end of the week.
Since Friday, Democrats in Congress have been advocating for a change to national gun laws, to prevent tragedies like the one that occurred in Newtown. But another solution is gaining momentum among gun rights activists and state lawmakers: Arm all of the teachers.
Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, said that if principal Dawn Hochsprung had been armed during the shooting, we wouldn't be here today discussing gun regulations as a nation, according to the Huffington Post.
”I wish to God she had had an M-4 in her office, locked up so when she heard gunfire, she pulls it out … and takes him out and takes his head off before he can kill those precious kids,” he said.