Ohio’s House Bill 99 has gone into effect, which means teachers, principals and school staff are now permitted to carry firearms on campus and in classrooms.
It went into effect on Monday.
“Our goal continues to be to help our schools, public schools, parochial schools, private schools, to have the tools they need to help protect our children,” DeWine said after signing the bill, the Examiner reported.
“Working together, we have come a long way to improve school safety in Ohio over the last decade, and we must continue this progress. We have an obligation to do everything we can every single day to try and protect our kids,” DeWine also said in a statement after signing the bill.
A 2021 Ohio Supreme Court ruling required that anyone thus authorized by a board of education must also have 700 hours of peace officer training, or 20 years of law enforcement experience.
However, such training can be expensive and time-consuming for any educator who might want to carry a firearm to protect children.
“After all, basic peace officer training costs can exceed $5,000, and a minimum of 737 training hours are required,” the Blaze reported.
This new law, instead, requires up to 24 hours of initial training and then 8 more supplemental training hours each year. The employee must submit to a yearly criminal record check.
The district or specific school also must provide notice that it has authorized one or more persons to be armed on campus, according to the Blaze.
The new Ohio law comes after a big push to enhance school safety in response to the mass school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, in May that shook the whole country.
However, not everyone is happy about this new law. There is a lot of disagreement surrounding it.
Even before this Ohio bill was passed, the National Education Association criticized the idea of allowing more school employees to carry guns at school.
“Bringing more guns into schools makes schools more dangerous and does nothing to shield our students and educators from gun violence,” Becky Pringle, the NEA’s president, said shortly after the Uvalde school shooting, the Examiner reported.
“We need fewer guns in schools, not more. Teachers should be teaching, not acting as armed security guards,” Pringle added.
Teachers and educators from Ohio have also voiced concern since the bill has become law and gone into effect.
“Arming teachers is not the way to keep our children safe,” Melissa Cropper, a former educator and the president of the Ohio Federation of Teachers, told WSYX.
“It scares me. It genuinely scares me,” Amber Estis, the principal of The Shepard School in Columbus, also said.
The bill was also opposed by the Fraternal Order of Police and several Ohio teachers unions, including the Ohio Federation of Teachers and the Ohio Education Association, the Ohio Capital Journal reported.
But others see this law as a great addition to keeping students safe.
“We think that’s a benefit for schools. It returns them the option of having enhanced safety and security options in their schools,” said Joe Eaton, who leads Buckeye Firearms Foundation’s FASTER Saves Lives program, according to WSYX.
The bill’s sponsor, Thomas Hall, said that the law is helpful for rural areas where schools are not easily accessible to first responders, the Ohio Capital Journal reported.
“Some of the inner city schools have police officers at their school, some of these rural schools don’t have that luxury,” Hall said.
Ohio House Speaker Bob Cupp also added that the bill gave school districts a new and important option in seeking to protect kids better.
“I’m comfortable my school district would set adequate training and they wouldn’t authorize anybody that wasn’t capable of doing it safely,” he said.
State Rep. Phil Plummer, a Republican from Dayton and also a former county sheriff, added that arming educators and school employees just shortens the “lengthy” process it takes to get first responders to schools in an active shooter situation.
“We’ve got to arm these teachers to give those kids a fighting chance,” Plummer said. “We’re training teachers, we’re securing weapons, we’re giving them best (identification) that they’re friendlies, they’re not the person creating the school shooting.”
Plummer did recognize that the overall culture of “kids killing kids” is what needs to change, but in the meantime, the bill would be a way to protect children more effectively, the Capital Journal reported.
“Our best chance is training these teachers, keeping guns in schools, and trying to isolate the problem until the first responders can get there,” Plummer said.
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