In Wake of Uvalde Shooting, Ohio Moves to Arm Teachers
Ohio teachers are pushing back against a new law that makes it easier for them to bring firearms into the classroom.
“Educators are being told we are not trusted to decide what to teach in the classroom, a job we study for and are lichened to do,” argues Shari Obrenski, President of the Teachers Union in Cleveland, OH. “But we are trusted to have loaded guns around children with far less training than is required to drive a car.”
Ohio Governor Mike DeWine (R) signed the bill Monday, less than a month after a disturbed 18-year old shot 19 students and 2 teachers and wounded 17 others at Robb Elementary in Uvalde, TX after shooting and severely wounding his grandmother at home.
Educators in Ohio are already allowed to carry guns, but the new bill would ease training requirements and other restrictions – including dropping the number of training hours required from 700 to 24. Teachers interested in obtaining a permit would be required to complete a “curriculum, instruction, and training” that parallels the state’s requirements for private security guards.
The bill gives local school boards the authority on whether to allow its staff to be armed and individual boards could require additional training hours.
“This is a local choice, not mandated by the legislature nor by the government,” clarified DeWine, who noted that the presence of armed teachers at Robb Elementary could have made a huge difference.
Law enforcement officials who responded to the incident in Uvalde have been criticized for waiting outside the school for nearly 80 minutes before entering – despite having known that people inside were injured.
“That heartbreaking school shooting certainly increased the urgency to enact [the bill],” said DeWine.
A majority of teachers are uncomfortable with the idea of bringing firearms into the classroom despite the obvious need to increase protections for students.
Mike Weinman, Government Affairs Director for the Fraternal Order of Police, fears the bill doesn’t require enough training. “We go through hundreds of hours of training and a lot of that is on how not to use our weapons.”
Ohio lawmakers appropriated $117 million for schools to use for security enhancements in addition to passing the bill, which takes effect in mid-September.
“Schools will be required to have a security and vulnerability assessment conducted by law enforcement, former military, or security professionals that will help them determine their security needs,” explained DeWine.
Within the past two years, DeWine has signed a bill that removes a requirement that anyone under attack with deadly force attempt to retreat before responding with violence and a bill that eliminates some background check requirements for concealed carry permits.
Despite these efforts, however, guns are now the leading cause of death for youths living in Ohio and years 2020 and 2021 both set new records for the number of Ohio residents killed by firearms.
With Ohio added to the list, there are now 19 US states that allow educators with concealed carry licenses to bring firearms to school with permission from local school authorities.