Parents of Parkland victims advocate for proposed Utah school safety bill

Posted at 4:48 PM, Feb 20, 2024
and last updated 2024-02-20 20:50:11-05

SALT LAKE CITY — Parents of Parkland shooting victims shared their emotional stories Tuesday to advocate for school security legislation in Utah.

"It was the most painful, horrific moment in my life to find out my daughter, Alyssa, was murdered in her English class at school, she was shot eight times," said Lori Alhadeff.

It's been six years since Alhadeff's daughter and Max Schachter's son, Alex, were two of 17 people killed in 2018 in the mass shooting at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School.

"After 9/11, we made the airport safe. After the Oklahoma City building, we made the federal building safe, and it's been over 20 years since Columbine and children and teachers continue to be murdered in their classroom. Why is this continuing to happen?" asked Schacter.

Since the Parkland shooting, Alhadeff and Schachter have done everything they can to prevent the next tragedy. On Tuesday, they joined members of the School Security Task Force to show support for Rep. Ryan Wilcox's (R-Ogden) School Safety Amendments bill that beefs up school safety measures and includes part of Alyssa's Law, named after Alhadeff's daughter.

"Alyssa's Law is a panic button so if there's a life-threatening emergency situation, we want to empower our teachers to press a button, whether it's an app on their phone or a badge they wear around their neck," said Lori Alhadeff, "and it's directly linked to law enforcement to help them get on the scene as soon as possible."

Wilcox's bill would also create an armed guardian program and establish duties for the state security chief, all with the goal of making classrooms safer for students and teachers.

"There's nothing more important. If we don't get it right — we have to get this one right. We've gotten lucky so far and I don't know how long we can," Wilcox said.

"I encourage Utah, just because you haven't had a tragedy in this state, make sure you take this seriously," said Schachter. "We were complacent in our state. We never thought it would happen in our community, but it can and it does."