Ohio makes it easier for teachers to carry guns to school

Teachers and other employees in Ohio schools will be able to carry firearms to school with minimal training since last year, after Gov. Mike DeWine signed a bill Monday.

While employees have for years been permitted to carry weapons on school property with the consent of the local school board, the Supreme Court of Ohio ruled in 2021, this state law required them to first complete the same basic peace officer training as law enforcement officials or security guards who carry firearms on campus , which involves more than 700 hours of instruction.

The move, DeWine said Monday, had made it largely impossible for Ohio school districts to allow staff members to carry firearms.

Under the new law, a maximum of 24 hours of training will be enough for teachers to carry arms in school, although the local council will still have to give its approval. Twenty-eight states allow people other than security personnel to carry firearms on school property, with laws in nine of those states explicitly mentioning school employees, according to the National Conference of Legislatures of the United States. States. Polls in recent years show that a majority of Americans, and a vast majority of teachersoppose the idea of ​​arming teachers.

In a statement on the bill’s passage, DeWine said his office ‘has worked with the General Assembly to cut hundreds of hours of programming unrelated to school safety’, and thanked the legislature “for passing this bill to protect Ohio’s children and teachers.”

The governor emphasized that local school districts would still have the option of banning guns from school campuses. “It doesn’t require any school to arm teachers or staff,” he said. “Each school will make its own decision.”

Last week, Justin Bibb, the mayor of Cleveland, said his city would continue to ban teachers and other non-security personnel from carrying firearms in schools.

Ohio’s new law, which passed the state Senate suddenly and quickly after the school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, passed on June 1 along roughly partisan lines, two Republicans joining all Democrats in voting against. The bill passed the House in November, also on a near-partisan vote; a Republican joined the Democrats in voting against.

In a speech to the Senate, State Senator Niraj Antani, a Republican, dismissed “crocodile tears” from lawmakers who viewed the bill as dangerous, arguing that armed teachers would deter school shootings and calling Bill “probably the single most important thing we’ve done to stop a school shooter in Ohio.

Considerable opposition to the bill had developed against him during his run in the Legislative Assembly. Hundreds of people packed into committee rooms for hearings on the bill, with all but two or three speakers testifying against it. Opposition included gun control groups as well as teachers, school board members, police union representatives and police chiefs.

Robert Meader, who recently retired as commander of the Columbus, Ohio, police division, called the training requirement in the bill “woefully inadequate,” arguing that it ” would cause dangerous accidents and potentially even unnecessary deaths.”

The bill is the second major gun bill Mr. DeWine, a Republican, has signed into law this year. The first, which took effect Monday, eliminates the requirement for a license to carry a concealed handgun.

The governor faced intense pressure to address gun violence after a 2019 shooting in Dayton when nine people were killed and 17 injured when a young man opened fire outside a bar. In the days following the shooting, a crowd at a vigil greeted Mr. DeWine with loud chants of “Do Something!” which would become something of a motto for those seeking to take action against gun violence.

Mr. DeWine initially expressed support for a so-called red flag law, but neither it nor any other gun restrictions were put to a vote in the Republican-controlled Legislature.

In 2021, Mr. DeWine signed a “Stand Your Ground” measure, allowing people to use deadly force without first attempting to remove themselves from a dangerous situation. He signed the bill allowing concealed carry without a permit in March. Republicans argued during the debate preceding this latest bill that drastically reducing the training required for teachers to carry guns was itself a response to people’s demands for action against gun violence.

“We’ve heard people say, ‘Do something,'” State Sen. Terry Johnson, a Republican, told the Senate. “Well, it’s something and it’s something important.”

Democrats, vastly outnumbered in the Legislature, had only to condemn the bill and warn of its potential consequences.

“They just wanted to say they were doing something and what they did is wrong,” said State Sen. Teresa Fedor, a Democrat who served in the Air Force and taught fourth grade. year for years, in an interview. “They will have blood on their hands.”