Ohio Governor Signs Bill Allowing Teachers to Be Armed

School districts in Ohio now have the option to allow teachers and school employees to carry weapons.

Republican Gov. Mike DeWine on June 13 signed a bill that would let school districts decide whether to allow teachers to be armed. Teachers in participating district would require a minimum of 24 hours of training and eight hours of re-certification training annually.

The signing of the bill comes on the day Ohio’s “permitless carry” law takes effect.

Under the new law, school boards which allow teachers and employees to be armed have to inform the parents of the decision. The law also requires armed teachers to undergo annual criminal background checks.

Educators would receive comprehensive and quality training that also includes how to spot behavioral problems or violent tendencies in a student, DeWine said.

“This does not require school districts to arm its teachers,” DeWine said. “Every school district can make its own decision. This is a local choice not mandated by the state or governor. This bill is part of a comprehensive and layered approach to school safety and keeping kids safe in schools.”

The training would be scenario-based, including how to stop an active shooter and how to de-escalate a violent situation, crisis intervention.

“If parents hear or see something, they should say something,” DeWine said. “School safety is everyone’s business.”

The governor’s signing of the bill comes less than a month after the school shooting at Robb Elementary in Uvalde, Texas, that left 21 dead.

The bill DeWine signed on Monday was in the works more than a year ago. The law will take effect in early September and would allow teachers to be armed in the 2022-2023 school year once the required training is completed.

Republican state Rep. Thomas Hall sponsored the bill to allow to arm teachers and introduced it on Feb. 9, 2021.

Hall’s father was a school resource officer on duty when a 14-year-old boy shot and injured two students at Madison High School in northeast Ohio in 2016.

“Today, Ohio is ‘doing something’ to address the issue of safety in schools,” Hall said. “Empowering districts to decide whether to allow teachers to be armed is a step in the right direction. In emergencies at our schools, seconds matter, and tragedies can be prevented.”

In addition to Democrat opposition, the Ohio Education Association that represents 121,000 educators, and the Ohio Fraternal Order of Police also opposed the bill.

The organizations were urging the governor to veto the bill and consider hiring more school resource officers.

Last year, the Ohio Supreme Court decided more than 700 hours of basic peace officer training—or 20 years of law enforcement experience—was required to carry a firearm in a school.

It later ruled that the legislature could change and clarify the law that would cover school employees, according to information from DeWine’s office.

“Our students and educators need to be in safe environments where they can focus on teaching and learning, not on the threat of having unprepared, woefully undertrained people—regardless of their good intentions—making split-second life-or-death decisions about whether to pull the trigger in a chaotic classroom full of innocent bystanders,” Ohio Education Association president Scott DeMauro said in a statement.

OFOP director of governmental affairs Michael Weinman told The Epoch Times there are major concerns with the legislation.

“We think it’s a terrible bill,” Weinman said. “The amount of training required for someone who is going to be carrying a gun in a school where there could be chaos is woefully inadequate.

“The majority of school shootings are done by a student or a former student,” Weinman added. “No. 1, schools can increase counseling and train teachers to spot red flags in these kids. Teachers have a lot on their plate already, but mental health is important. School administrators need to be able to communicate with parents about what is going on.”

Despite the opposition to the bill, some schoolteachers welcomed the opportunity to be armed.

“We are the last line of defense of protecting students and ourselves,” said a high school teacher in northeast Ohio, who didn’t want to be named. “I would be willing to go through the training to be armed, or would feel comfortable with my co-workers to be armed.”

Another teacher with more than 20 years of teaching experience in a Dayton area school district also supports the new law.

“I would be very willing to take the training, and be armed at school,” the teacher, who did not want to be named, told The Epoch Times. “Although it is an unthinkable tragedy when a shooting does happen in a school, I worry more about my family in the car being hit by a drunk driver.

“I also don’t think infringements on the Second Amendment are going to deter criminals or the mentally ill from attempting such things,” the teacher added.

From The Epoch Times