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Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine signs bill allowing teachers, staff to carry guns in schools

Gun Silencers Regulation
Posted at 6:17 PM, Jun 13, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-13 18:38:28-04

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Gov. Mike DeWine signed a bill into law Monday morning (the same day permitless carry went into effect) that would allow any school staff member to carry a gun into a school with just 24 hours of training.

Despite the vast majority of community members testifying in opposition, DeWine signed House Bill 99. Joined by bill sponsor state Rep. Thomas Hall, a Republican from Madison Township, and very-involved state Sen. Frank Hoagland, a Republican from Mingo Junction, the governor gave an update on his thoughts on H.B. 99 and other "safety updates."

"I want to take a moment to commend Ohio's school officials, our teachers who have worked very hard to prevent, avert and avoid tragedies," DeWine said. "They deserve our thanks and appreciation."

He wanted to show that by helping out with safety measures and signing a bill that would allow school staff members to bring a gun to work.

"I've said to many legislators, practice the Hippocratic Oath, at least do no harm," Scott DiMauro, president of the Ohio Education Association (OEA) said. "Bills like these are harmful, they're harmful to kids, they're harmful to educators, they're harmful to our state."

DiMauro and more than 350 others testified against H.B. 99. About 19 testified in favor.

RELATED: GOP lawmakers pass bill to arm teachers, other adults in Ohio schools

"I'm committed to continuing to do all we can to be a resource for teachers, administrators and other school staff to help protect our kids," the governor said.

Many state Republicans said this will increase public safety since many more people will have a weapon on them. Many educators, law enforcement officers, parents and Democrats say this is dangerous and the wrong move.

"If there is one thing that we should not do when it comes to doing something, it's this," state Rep. Casey Weinstein, a Democrat from Hudson, said.

At least four of the 24 hours have to be training of "scenario-based" or simulated training exercises, but it is unclear if that needs to be with a live weapon. Although it is not specified how much time is needed, there is a requirement to complete "tactical live firearms training."

The new bill also has an annual requalification training, but it can't be more than eight hours. That being said, the bill does not prohibit a school district from requiring additional training — it just can't be mandated by the state.

The bill creates the Ohio School Safety and Crisis Center within the Department of Public Safety to be operated by the Ohio Mobile Training Team, which would develop the curriculum in training.

Although not originally included in the bill or the sub-bill, an amendment to the sub-bill added that armed individuals must have a criminal background check each year.

Previously, armed teachers would have to become peace officers with more than 700 hours on average of educational courses and firearm training. H.B. 99 would make it significantly easier for adults in schools to carry guns, loosening the regulations by more than 95%.

For context, police get 60 hours of firearm training, with 46 of those hours being at a gun range. School resource officers get the same as police, but an additional 40 hours of training both inside and at the range.

Other than signing the bill, the governor announced additional funding for safety. He secured $100 million to be used for physical safety upgrades to schools. Another $6 million is going to the training programs for arming school staff members. Along with that, he said he was committed to supporting and expanding mental health efforts and services to combat violent behavior.

The Republicans also made sure to press that arming teachers is an option, not a requirement.

DeWine and the GOP should be held accountable when mistakes, like accidentally shooting the wrong kid, happen, Weinstein said.

"It's going to bring more guns from untrained people in a chaotic situation and ultimately more innocent people will die because of this policy," the Democrat added.

The lawmaker then mentioned how teachers already feel overwhelmed, DiMauro agreed.

"We've been on the front line of the pandemic, we've been on the front line of the culture wars that we didn't create and now we're being asked to be on the front line when it comes to safety against armed intruders," the educator said. "I think for so many of our educators across the state, they're just saying enough is enough."

The bill isn't thought out, he added, and there is still so much unknown.

Although the governor is asking everyone to complete 24 hours of training, he says he doesn't know how much of that training will be holding a live firearm versus instruction. The curriculum is being drafted. At this point, a number of details have not been decided on.

"Our goal is to continue to help our public and private schools get the tools they need to protect our children."

DeWine's team said the curriculum should be finished this summer — and once it is, school boards can choose to send their staff members off to training. Some staff could even be armed by mid-fall.

Follow WEWS statehouse reporter Morgan Trau on Twitter and Facebook.