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Controversial bill allowing adults, school staff to carry guns heads to governor’s desk

COLUMBUS — Both houses of the Ohio legislature passed a controversial bill Wednesday that would allow school employees to arm themselves and with less training than before.

>>New legislation in Ohio legislature sparks debate over allowing adults to carry firearms on school properties

The state Senate passed House Bill 99 Wednesday 23-9 with some changes to the original legislation that previously passed in the House. The bill passed by the Senate went back to the House where it was passed, mainly along party lines, our news partners at WCPO-TV

The bill now heads to Gov. Mike DeWine’s desk where he has given indication that he’ll sign it into law.

“Last week 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. 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. 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,” DeWine said in a statement Wednesday night.

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City commissioners in Dayton sent a letter to DeWine Wednesday asking him to take action on gun reform and specifically not sign House Bill 99. Commissioners called a news conference demanding DeWine veto the bill and instead work with local communities to create tougher gun legislation.

The bill is an opt-in proposal so schools are not forced to do it. If a school district chose to opt-in, they could also require additional training, it just couldn’t be mandated by the state, WCPO-TV reports.

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The bill calls for a heavy reduction in the required training for a teacher or adult to carry a gun on school property. Previous legislation required adults, teacher or staff members, to become peace officers with over 700 hours of educational training and courses.

House Bill 99, if signed into law, would allow an adult to carry a gun on school property with only 20 hours of training with only two hours of hands-on training with the gun.

The training would include how to stop an active shooter, how to de-escalate a violent situation, trauma and first-aid care, at least four hours in “scenario-based or simulated training exercises,” and completing “tactical live firearms training, according to the Associated Press, citing the legislation.

The bill has sparked debate with proponents saying its a necessary measure to keep schools safe, while opponents push for more funding to hire school resource officers.

“750-plus hours is not a realistic or practical requirement for full time staff to complete in order to simply keep our students and educators safe,” State Rep. Thomas Hall, R-Madison Twp., who is the sponsor of the bill previously said.

“With House Bill 99, we’re trying to get schools here in Ohio another option of school safety. I think House Bill 99 is a great answer and a great tool for schools here,” Thomas said in a WCPO-TV report.

“We do not support arming teachers or staff. Fully and fairly funding our public schools would allow more school districts to hire appropriately trained School Resource Officers, without watering down the current law,” Ohio Federation of Teachers Vice President Shari Obrenski said during a Senate subcommittee hearing Tuesday.

Additional bill opponents included the Ohio Education Association and the Fraternal Order of Police of Ohio. During the Senate subcommittee hearing Tuesday, opponents greatly outnumbered the supporters who spoke during the hearing.

One supporter, Buckeye Firearms Association lobbyist Rob Sexton, said arming teachers would give children a fighting chance in the event “the worst happens in our schools,” according to the Associated Press.

We’ll continue to update this story as we learn more.