Teachers in Ohio now allowed to carry GUNS as state’s House Bill 99 takes effectSEPTEMBER 17, 20220 COMMENTS
School teachers in Ohio can now carry guns to defend their students under the state’s House Bill (HB) 99, which took effect Monday, September 12.
HB 99, signed into law by Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine on June 13, also allows principals and school staff to carry firearms on campus and in classrooms.
“Our goal continues to be to help our schools – public schools, parochial schools [and] private schools – to have the tools they need to help protect our children,” said the Republican governor. “We have an obligation to do everything we can every single day to try and protect our kids.”
Prior to the bill’s passing, only security officers or persons specifically authorized by a board of education were allowed to carry weapons. Persons authorized by education boards must have either 20 years’ experience in law enforcement or 700 hours of peace officer training, as ruled by the Ohio Supreme Court in 2021.
However, the requirement can be expensive and time-consuming for any educator wanting to carry a firearm to protect children. Renewed calls to arm educators came following the May 2022 Uvalde, Texas school shooting that saw 21 dead.
HB 99 loosened this requirement by mandating up to 24 hours of initial training and eight more hours of supplemental training annually. Employees allowed to carry firearms must also submit to a yearly criminal record check. Moreover, the specific school or the district that oversees it must provide notice that it has authorized one or more persons to carry guns on campus.
HB 99 helpful for areas not easily accessible to first respondersGOP State Rep. Thomas Hall, the bill’s sponsor, said HB 99 is helpful for rural areas where schools are not easily accessible to first responders. “[While] some of the inner city schools have police officers at their school, some of these rural schools don’t have that luxury.”
GOP State Rep. Phil Plummer, a former county sheriff, agreed with the bill. He explained that HB 99 shortens the “lengthy” process it takes to get first responders to schools in an active shooter situation.
“I’m comfortable my school district would set adequate training and they wouldn’t authorize anybody that wasn’t capable of doing it safely,” said Ohio State House Speaker Bob Cupp, also from the GOP.
Despite the GOP’s support of HB 99, many educators voiced disagreement over the bill. In fact, the leaders of three teachers’ unions vehemently opposed the measure that permitted teachers to arm themselves.
One union, the National Education Association (NEA), had been critical of allowing school employees to carry guns on campus even before HB 99 became law.
“We need fewer guns in schools, not more,” said NEA President Becky Pringle. “Teachers should be teaching, not acting as armed security guards.”
“Bringing more guns into schools makes schools more dangerous and does nothing to shield our students and educators from gun violence.
American Federation of Teachers (AFT) President Randi Weingarten agreed with Pringle, saying: “The answer to gun violence is not ‘more guns.'” AFT is the second-largest teachers’ union, after the NEA.
Joe Eaton of the Buckeye Firearms Foundation, however, begs to differ.
“We think that’s a benefit for schools. It returns them the option of having enhanced safety and security options in their schools,” said Eaton, who leads the foundation’s FASTER Saves Lives program.