Ohio governor signs bill letting schools arm staff with 24 hours of training

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine on Monday signed a bill that will allow school staff to carry guns on campus after 24 hours of training with a weapon.

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The legislation, House Bill 99, will let school districts decide if they want school employees, including teachers, to be able to carry a firearm in the school after completing 24 hours of training.

Prior to DeWine’s signing of the bill, the state required 700 hours of training before school personnel could be armed while on campus.

That amount of training was set by the Ohio Supreme Court in a ruling last year, which said that if a person employed by a school wanted to carry a gun, they would have to have as many hours of training as police officers were required to have — 700 hours.

“Those 700 hours of training are intended to broadly train law enforcement,” DeWine said during a news briefing Monday. “The vast majority of that training is not really relevant to a school safety, directly,” DeWine said.

The governor noted that some of the 700 hours required for training a police officer are spent on patrolling streets, writing tickets and conducting investigations.

While the bill took on new urgency after the shootings at a Uvalde, Texas, elementary school, the legislation was first introduced in February 2021.

The Ohio Education Association and the Ohio Federation of Teachers issued a statement condemning the bill, saying it will not make schools safer.

“In the wake of the tragic school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, Ohio lawmakers are rushing to take action to address school safety concerns in our state. The Ohio Education Association and the Ohio Federation of Teachers want to be clear: House Bill 99 will make Ohio’s students less safe in their schools,” Scott DiMauro, president of the Ohio Education Association, and Melissa Cropper, president of the Ohio Federation of Teachers, said in a joint statement.

House Bill 99 will allow local boards of education to decide whether they want school staff to carry firearms at all and how much training will be required.

State school districts are not required to allow staff to carry firearms under the law.

“In life we make choices, and we don’t always know what the outcome is going to be,” DeWine said at a news conference. “What this Legislature has done, I’ve done by signing it, is giving schools an option based on their particular circumstances to make the best decision they can make with the best information they have. That’s all any decision-maker can do.”

Several Democratic Ohio mayors joined together Monday to criticize the measure.

“I feel like a putz for believing him,” Toledo Mayor Wade Kapszukiewicz told USA Today of DeWine’s promise to “do something” about gun violence. “He did something, alright. He gave in like a coward, and he made the problem worse.”