Ohio legislature passes bill that would arm teachers

by mcardinal

Willie R. Tubbs, FISM News


In a move long called for by conservatives, the Ohio statehouse has passed a bill that would allow faculty and staff to carry concealed firearms on school campuses.

The pending law, House Bill 99, would apply to adults who work at public or private schools. School districts could also opt to allow teachers to carry without participating in the 737 hours of peace officer training that is currently required for concealed weapon certification.

According to a 2019 report from the National Conference of State Legislatures, Ohio was one of 19 states that allowed schools to permit weapons on campus. House Bill 99 would expand and fast-track teachers’ ability to carry firearms on school premises.

Sponsored by Republican lawmaker Thomas Hall, the bill passed the Ohio House in November. However, in the wake of the school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, and increased calls from nationally prominent conservatives, the bill found new life and was brought up for a quick vote.

On Wednesday, the Senate passed the legislation by a 23-9 vote, and Republican Gov. Mike DeWine has indicated he will sign the bill into law.

“Last week I called on the General Assembly to pass a bill that would allow local school districts, if they so choose, to designate armed staff for school security and safety,” DeWine said in a statement. “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.”

The notion of arming teachers has gained traction among a sizable number of Americans in the discussion on how to prevent mass school shootings.

As early as 2018, in the wake of the Parkland shooting in Florida, 49 percent of parents who participated in a Rasmussen poll indicated they supported armed teachers. However, a Gallup poll conducted during the same year indicated that 73 percent of teachers were opposed to the idea.

Advocates argue arming teachers would make less-appealing targets and would provide teachers a better chance to protect themselves and their students. Opponents, though, argue that teachers with firearms could make an active-shooter situation more dangerous and chaotic.