Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine (R) has signed a bill that would allow teachers and school staff to carry firearms with reduced training requirements.
“House Bill 99, as you know, also addresses the option, and it is an option, of arming school staff,” DeWine said in a press conference. “Although this bill was in development well before the recent tragedy in Texas, that heartbreaking school shooting certainly increased the urgency to enact it since many learned of House Bill 99 in the wake of this Texas shooting.”
Under state statutes pre-dating HB-99, anyone authorized by a school board to carry a firearm on school grounds would have to undergo the minimum training hours of a police officer, which would be more than 700 hours or 20 years of law enforcement experience.
However, those hours are not just related to firearm training. They also include driving courses, stopping traffic, investigating automobile crashes, operating a radar gun – skills that are not applicable to teachers or school safety staff.
DeWine said he thought that most schools would find the mandatory 700 hours of training unrealistic for teachers and staff. He also added that Ohio needs legislation to ensure the training isn’t just significant, but actually relevant to school safety and active shooter threats.
HB-99 allows the Ohio School Safety Center to require up to 24 hours of training curriculum, but DeWine is directing the center to require all 24 hours. The training includes de-escalation, crisis intervention, first aid, scenario based training, and psychology of critical incidents.
The new law also requires eight additional hours of requalification training annually, as well as annual criminal background checks.
“Schools are not required to do this,” DeWine mentioned.
“What the bill does is essentially reverts back to the prior practice of allowing local school districts to make a local decision on whether or not they’ll permit certain school staff members to be armed on school grounds. This is a local choice,” DeWine said. “It is not mandated by the legislature nor by the government. Each school board will determine what is best for their students, their staff, and their community.”
The bill is already drawing criticism from some.
“I’ve had some of my members say, if they were to allow guns into our schools, they would leave the profession,” said Shari Obrenski, president of the Cleveland Teachers Union. “They would pack it up and call it a day. We are asked to do so much. Now to ask us to be the police professionals in all of this is a bridge too far.”