National concern for school safety prompted Ohio to make it easier for teachers to carry guns in the classroom.
House Bill 99 went into effect on Monday, reducing the number of hours of training previously required by law for teachers whose school boards permit them to be armed.
School personnel needed to complete 700 hours of training before the law took effect. The new law requires 24 hours of initial instruction, eight annual hours of additional training, as well as an annual criminal background check in order to carry in the classroom.
The law also establishes the Ohio School Safety Crisis Center and the Ohio Mobile Training Team “to develop a curriculum and provide instruction and training for individuals to convey deadly weapons and dangerous ordnance in a school safety zone.” These teams will consist of licensed peace officers and military veterans who will partner with school safety and security services.
The bill passed in the Ohio Senate with a vote of 56-34 in June and had Gov. Mike DeWine’s approval before he signed it into law.
“I called on the General Assembly to pass a bill that would allow local school districts, if they so chose, to designate armed staff for school security and safety,” DeWine said. “House Bill 99 accomplishes these goals, and I thank the General Assembly for passing this bill to protect Ohio children and teachers.”
Amidst much praise, the new law is receiving criticism from an Ohio teachers’ union.
“Arming teachers is not the way to keep our children safe,” said Melissa Cropper, president of the Ohio Federation of Teachers. “It is without question inadequate training, and when people who are carrying weapons have inadequate training, that opens the door for a lot of potentially bad things to happen.”
Supporters of the bill include Butler County Rep. Thomas Hall, who sponsored the bill after his father, a school resource officer, chased a shooter from Madison High School in 2016.
“My goal, and the goal of this legislation as a whole, was to always protect and enhance the school safety for the students and staff,” Hall told local news.
Joe Eaton, a leader in the Buckeye Firearms Foundation’s FASTER Saves Lives program, also believes arming teachers is beneficial.
“We think that’s a benefit for schools,” he said. “It returns them the option of having enhanced safety and security options in their schools.”