A US primary school boy caught with a gun at school told staff he brought the weapon to defend himself in case of an attack similar to the mass shooting in Connecticut.

The Salt Lake Tribune reports that two classmates at West Kearns Elementary School in Utah reported the gun to a teacher toward the end of the school day yesterday.

Granite School District spokesman Ben Horsley says the teacher “immediately apprehended the student,” and police responded shortly after.

Mr Horsley told KSL-TV that an unloaded gun and ammunition were found in the 11-year-old’s backpack.

He says school police are investigating reports that the boy pointed the gun at another child’s head. He says such accounts haven’t been confirmed.

Authorities say no one was injured.

School officials say the 11-year-old has been arrested on suspicion of possessing a dangerous weapon and aggravated assault after other students told police he pointed the handgun at them on a field at the Salt Lake City school.

Officials say school staff confronted the boy in class after hearing he had a weapon and seized the unloaded gun and ammunition.

Authorities will not say where he got the gun. The boy was due in juvenile court later today.

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