DeWine signs bill that reduces gun training requirements for Ohio teachers
The governor argues more than 700 hours of the training hours previously required were ‘irrelevant to school safety.’
COLUMBUS, Ohio (WXIX) - Gov. Mike DeWine signed a bill Monday that drastically reduces the training hours needed to carry a gun in Ohio schools.
DeWine talked about HB99 and school safety at the Ohio Department of Public Safety in Columbus with Lt. Governor Jon Husted and the bill’s Republican sponsors, Rep. Thomas Hall (R-Madison Township) and Sen. Frank Hoagland (R-Mingo Junction).
“Our goal is to continue to help our public and private schools get the tools they need to protect our children,” Gov. DeWine said. “Working together, we have come a long way to improve school safety in Ohio over the last decade, and we must continue this progress. We have an obligation to do everything we can every single day to try and protect our kids.”
The governor signed the bill, which the Ohio General Assembly passed earlier this month mostly along party lines.
“We are doing something to help protect the lives of our children and staff at schools here in Ohio,” Hall said. “In Butler County, we dealt with this firsthand when my father who is a school resource officer at Madison High School chased a school shooter from the premises. With these emergencies, seconds matter and this legislation today really matters.”
Ohio is a permitless carry state as of Monday, but those wishing to carry a gun on school grounds still need a permit. HB99 reduces the training hours needed to attain that permit from 728 to 24 for initial approval.
DeWine last week called the 704 hours of training slashed from the permitting requirement “irrelevant to school safety.” He said HB99 ensures the training is “specific to a school environment and contain[s] significant scenario-based training.”
The hours are equivalent to the training hours that police officers go through. Gov. DeWine says that the reason for reducing the hours is because some of the hours do not apply to schools such as patrol, driving, and emergency vehicle operation.
Gov. DeWine says that the school training will include:
- Scenario-based training
- Instructions on mitigation techniques
- Neutralization of potential threats and active shooters
- Psychology of critical incidents
- De-escalation techniques
- Crisis intervention
- Trauma and first aid care
- History/pattern of school shootings
- Tactics of responding to critical incidents
- Tactical live firearm training
- Urban training
- Realistic training
Gun carriers must receive eight additional training hours every year afterward. They must also submit to an annual criminal records check.
The training can be waived if the person has a certificate of completion from an approved basic peace officer training program.
The decision about whether school employees can be armed on school grounds remains up to local school districts, and school districts would have the discretion to require additional training on top of the bill’s minimum requirements. They would be required to fund the training.
One district likely to not allow armed staff is Mason City School District which invested $1 million in school resource officers.
“We know our police are very close by and ready to come,” said Tracey Carson, Mason City Schools. “For some rural districts in the state that may not be the case and it may be something like HB 99 provides them some additional resources.”
School boards would have to inform parents, by whichever way the board normally communicates with the public, if school personnel are authorized to be armed. Whether parents would know which teachers are armed remains unclear. School districts would be required to keep a list of authorized carriers, but the list would not be eligible for public records requests.
Among those who voted against HB99 is former police officer, Senator Cecil Thomas.
He is concerned the move from a required 700 hours down to 24 hours will leave armed staff unprepared.
“When you fire a gun under stress, you’re going to be throwing bullets everywhere unless you have significant training,” Thomas said. “Worst case scenario without that training you’re spraying bullets. You’re spraying bullets and, my god, I would hate to say ‘yeah you took the person down but you took four children down also.’”
“Just because you’re not legally required to get training doesn’t mean it’s not a good idea,” Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost said Monday. “Using a firearm is not instinct, and watching TV shows is not training. Ohioans should learn how to handle their firearms from a qualified instructor. A trained citizen is a safe citizen.”
DeWine’s running opponent, Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley, provided a statement after the governor signed the bill into law Monday:
“Governor DeWine has once again ignored calls from Ohioans to ‘Do Something’ on gun violence and, instead, has made our communities less safe. He’s continued to show Ohioans that he cares more about the gun lobby that funds his campaigns and the Republican extremists than he does about keeping our children and our communities safe from gun violence. Unfortunately for him, voters will remember his callousness in November and vote him out of office.
HB99 creates a bureaucratic apparatus under the Ohio Department of Public Safety called the Ohio School Safety and Crisis Center, staffed by a newly created Ohio Mobile Training Team, which would exist in part to help schools develop public safety, education, mental health, emergency management, and other plans.
The Mobile Training Team would also take over responsibility for developing the training curriculum and overseeing the approval of persons wishing to carry guns on school grounds, a task currently given to the Ohio Peace Officer Training Academy.
Republican lawmakers in the aftermath of the Uvalde shooting framed the bill, which was first introduced to the Ohio House in 2021, as a measure to prevent school shootings. Pierre Atlas, a senior lecturer at the O’Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs at IUPUI in Indianapolis, argues that notion is misconceived.
“Teachers have a tremendous amount of responsibility already, and in some ways, they’re asked to be social workers as well as parents in some cases,” he said Sunday. “Now you’re asking them in some cases potentially to use deadly force against one of their own students.”
Atlas contends adding more guns into the classroom raises more questions than it answers.
“Where is he or she going to keep that firearm? Is it going to be physically on [his or her’s] body the entire time? If it’s not on her person the entire time, where will it be in the desk?” Atlas posed.
“What happens if, God forbid, there’s a shooter coming onto the campus? You’re in the classroom, and you’re a teacher, and you’ve got a gun. But the shooting is taking place in another classroom. Are you going to leave your students vulnerable to find that potential shooter?”
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