A bill in Ohio that would allow teachers and other school staff to carry guns on school grounds with less training time passed the state legislature and is expected to be signed by Gov. Mike DeWine.
"I think it gets down to this: Do we want our kids to have a fighting chance in the event that the worst happens, right," said one of the bill's supporters, legislative affairs director for the Buckeye Firearms Association Rob Sexton, according to reporting from KAMR. "And for us, we’d just like a school to be able to have that option. Allows local school districts to make their own decisions,"
The bill will allow any adult that is licensed to carry a concealed firearm in both public and private schools with a reduced training requirement, doing away with the 737 hours of peace officer training that is currently required in favor of mandating only 24 hours of training. Individual schools and districts have the option to set their own policies, including requiring additional hours of training.
The bill, which passed by a 23-9 vote in the State Senate and a 56-34 vote in the State House, mandates at least 18 hours of general training, two hours of handgun training, two hours of "additional" general training, and two hours of "additional" handgun training.
It was fast-tracked through the legislature after a mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas last month left 21 people dead, including 19 students.
But not everyone is convinced the Ohio bill is the answer to protect students from similar mass shooting incidents, with Ohio Education Association President Scott DiMauro testifying that the bill would put too much responsibility on the shoulders of teachers.
"Asking teachers who are already overburdened to add more to their plate by serving in a dual role where they’re both responsible for educating children and now in some cases where this might be implemented for armed security in schools, we think is not really addressing the issue," DiMauro said.
DeWine is expected to sign the bill despite those concerns, arguing the new requirements will be more specific to school environments.
"My office worked with the General Assembly to remove hundreds of hours of curriculum irrelevant to school safety and to ensure training requirements were specific to a school environment and contained significant scenario-based training," the Republican governor said in a statement. "House Bill 99 accomplishes these goals, and I thank the General Assembly for passing this bill to protect Ohio children and teachers. I look forward to signing this important legislation."