Students line up to go back inside after recess at Westbrook Elementary School in Taylorsville, Utah, Thursday, Sept. 11, 2014. Earlier, a teacher accidentally shot herself in the leg, while alone in a faculty bathroom, shortly before school started.
Photo by Kristin Murphy/AP

Utah teacher shoots herself in the leg while at school

Updated

A teacher in Utah accidentally shot herself in the leg Thursday inside an elementary school building.

Just before 9 a.m., Michelle Ferguson-Montgomery accidentally discharged her gun while using a faculty restroom at Westbrook Elementary School in Taylorsville, the principal said in a letter to students’ parents. The incident occurred before school hours, and no children nor staff were present. The teacher was in legal possession of her gun on school property.

State law allows individuals to obtain a concealed-weapons permit and carry firearms onto school campuses, following the completion of a safety training course. Educators in possession of a weapon on school property must keep it with them at all times to prevent a student from finding the gun in a drawer or cabinet. The law does not, however, permit administrators to identify the faculty members who are eligible for licenses.

“Neither the district nor school can restrict access to our campuses for concealed weapons permit holders,” Principal Karen Chatterton wrote Thursday in the letter. “While this can be a highly emotional issue, we encourage you to have civil dialogue with our elected officials.”

Ferguson-Montgomery, who teaches sixth grade, did not experience life-threatening injuries. But crisis counselors were available subsequently for faculty and students who were concerned about the event.

A similar incident occurred in another state just last week, when a professor accidentally discharged his handgun and shot himself in the foot while walking on the campus of Idaho State University. A new law that went into effect earlier this year on July 1 allows Idaho residents to carry concealed weapons on college campuses.

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A week after the Dec. 14, 2012 shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, Wayne LaPierre, the executive vice president of the National Rifle Association, said Americans need more guns in schools

“Moms and dads across America know that’s not true. This incident only strengthens our resolve to fight them with everything we’ve got so we can raise our children in a nation with sensible gun laws and a responsible gun culture,” Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, said in a statement Thursday.

A recent report revealed that school violence and gun-related injuries are among American parents’ top 10 concerns nationwide.

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Moms Demand Action continues to make personal pleas to elected officials in their advocacy for stronger gun laws ahead of this year’s midterm elections.

On the same day of the accidental shooting in Utah, the Missouri Senate voted to override Gov. Jay Nixon’s veto of a bill that would permit certain educators to carry concealed weapons on school property. When he took a stance against the measure in July, the Democratic governor said educators must be focused on teaching children, and that arming faculty would not improve safety inside U.S. schools.

More than a year after the Senate failed to pass a bipartisan background checks bill in the months after the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School, Congress remains in a stalemate on gun control. Some state lawmakers are pushing for reform this year, while officials in other parts of the country want to lessen restrictions on gun legislation.

Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, for instance, signed a sweeping gun measure into law last month that grants police chiefs the authority to prevent certain individuals from obtaining firearms licenses. In Washington, D.C., a federal judge overturned a ban on carrying handguns in public. Earlier this year, Georgia’s so-called “guns everywhere” law took effect, which allows licensed residents to carry firearms into bars, nightclubs, school classrooms and even certain government buildings that lack security personnel.

Gun Policy, Gun Violence and Utah

Utah teacher shoots herself in the leg while at school

Updated