Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine signed a bill that would allow teachers to carry firearms after 24 hours of training. There is also a requirement for eight hours of annual refresher training. Ohio becomes the tenth state to allow teachers and/or school employees to carry a firearm to school.
The new law “is giving schools an option, based on their particular circumstances, to make the best decision they can make with the best information they have,” DeWine said in a statement.
In addition to the ten states that allow for armed teachers, there are another ten states where it isn’t illegal for a teacher to carry a gun. Texas is one of the latter states, but that didn’t prevent the horror in Uvalde.
The bill also pledges $100 million for school security upgrades in schools and $5 million for upgrades at colleges. It also provided $1.2 billion in wellness funding to address mental health issues. The state is also adding 28 employees to its school safety center to work with districts on safety issues — including training teachers in the proper use of firearms.
The bill is significant in at least one respect: not a single school shooting has occurred in any state that allows for armed school personnel.
Several big-city Ohio mayors — all Democrats — joined together Monday afternoon to criticize the measure and failure of Republican lawmakers to consider any gun control proposals. The mayors are seeking universal background checks, red flag laws to take firearms away from anyone who is perceived a threat, raising the legal age for gun purchases to 21, and a ban on assault rifles like the kind used in the Uvalde, Texas, school shooting that killed 19 elementary students and two teachers.
“All of these things are common sense,” said Toledo Mayor Wade Kapszukiewicz. “We’re in a situation where we can’t pass legislation that 95% of our citizens support.”
Also Monday, former Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley, DeWine’s Democratic opponent for governor, criticized DeWine for signing the armed school employees bill, saying he had failed to make good on his promise to address gun violence after a mass shooting in Dayton killed nine people and wounded more than two dozen in August 2019.
There are valid arguments against arming teachers. Most teachers are opposed to the idea, as are most students. Indeed, there have been several incidents of school employees’ guns being left unattended or taken during scuffles with students.
Guns have been mishandled during disciplinary measures. Firearms have been discharged unintentionally. There have been other “incidents” involving firearms that the Giffords Law Center cites as reasons not to allow guns in schools.
The question parents, teachers, administrators, and local school authorities have to ask is one of balance. Given the horrific carnage that shooters have carried out against unarmed students and teachers, is it worth the few incidents of unintentional gun use or carelessness in carrying guns to protect children?
Looking at the question rationally and without prejudice against guns or the politics of guns, most would answer that arming school employees is a positive and should be encouraged.