After one day of training, Ohio law allows teachers to carry guns in schools
The move is opposed by major law enforcement organisations, gun control advocates, and the state’s teachers’ unions, with only a few police departments and school districts in support.
Under the new legislation, teachers and staff will be allowed to bring firearms into school after completing a maximum of 24 hours of training.
On Monday, Republican Ohio Governor Mike DeWine signed legislation allowing school districts to arm employees into law.
The move is opposed by major law enforcement organizations, gun control advocates, and the state’s teachers’ unions, with only a few police departments and school districts in support.
Before an employee can be armed, the law requires up to 24 hours of training, as well as up to eight hours of annual training.
The governor also stated that training programs must be approved by the Ohio School Safety Center and that schools may provide additional training if they so desire.
Before announcing the new legislation, Mr. DeWine outlined several other school safety measures he and other politicians have advocated for, including $100 million (£82 million) for school security upgrades and $5 million (£4 million) for colleges.
In addition, Ohio is adding 28 new employees to the school safety center to work with districts on safety issues and provide training under the new law.
Mr. DeWine also stated that Ohio has provided $1.2 billion (£986 million) in wellness funding for schools to address mental health and other issues.
According to him, the new law “gives schools the option, based on their specific circumstances, to make the best decision they can with the best information they have.”
The governor stated that while he prefers school districts to hire armed school resource officers, the law is another tool for districts that want to protect children.
He also stressed that it is an option, not a requirement.
In response, a group of Democratic Ohio mayors banded together on Monday to condemn the bill and Republican politicians’ refusal to consider any gun control proposals.
Instead, they want universal background checks, red flag laws that take firearms away from anyone deemed a threat, raising the legal age for gun purchases to 21, and banning assault rifles like the ones used in the Uvalde, Texas, school shooting that killed 19 children and two teachers.
“All of this is common sense,” said Toledo Mayor Wade Kapszukiewicz.
“We are unable to pass legislation that is supported by 95 percent of our citizens.”
Democrats also argue that the Ohio law, coming so soon after the Uvalde massacre, sends the wrong message.
Former Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley, Mr. DeWine’s Democratic opponent for governor, also criticized the bill.
She claimed that the Ohio governor had failed to follow through on his promise to address gun violence following a mass shooting in Dayton that killed nine people and injured more than two dozen others in August 2019.
Mr. DeWine announced his “STRONG Ohio” plan to combat gun violence in the aftermath of the Dayton massacre.
His proposals included harsher penalties for violent felons caught with guns and prohibiting mentally ill people from possessing firearms if a court determines they are a danger to themselves and others.
According to the governor, cracking down on violent felons is also a way to protect children.
He said, “There are a lot of children being killed in their own homes, on their own street.”
According to state health department data, 120 children were killed by gunfire last year, compared to 96 in 2020 and 71 in 2019.