CCW classes for Ohio teachers to start Monday, Trump backs bonuses for ones who protect schools

Published: Feb. 22, 2018 at 11:19 AM EST|Updated: Feb. 23, 2018 at 7:28 AM EST
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BUTLER COUNTY, OH (FOX19) - Demand is so high in one Ohio county for a free concealed weapon training class for teachers, sign-up was cut off at 300 and classes are scheduled to start Monday.

Butler County Sheriff Richard Jones announced earlier this week in a three-line tweet his agency would hold firearm instruction for 50 teachers in light of the deadly mass school shooting in Florida.

But his offer set off received such an overwhelming response, those slots filled in just 20 minutes and another 200 signed up over the next 24 hours.

The sheriff said Thursday his agency cut off sign-ups at 300 and classes will begin Monday: "We could have kept going to 500. Even secretaries have called."

Classes will continue all week and possibly continue on weekends, depending on demand. All school personnel including janitors and secretaries are welcome, too.

"Our classes are moving very quickly," Jones said. "We are signing people up. When people say school teachers do not want to be armed, and school personnel, that is a lie. That is not true."

Related story: Teacher with CCW permit: Firearm in classroom important in protecting students

His proposal exploded in national and international headlines this week. The outspoken, publicity-loving sheriff who supported President Donald Trump's campaign and has drawn criticism for comments on immigration all over the media, from the BBC and Newsweek to the NRA and "Fox & Friends."

Jones talked with the Washington Post before taking our call Thursday and appeared on CNN and Fox Business. CBS Morning News plans to talk to him Friday or Monday, when he also will appear on HLN.

Conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh even mentioned the sheriff during his show Wednesday "....and then there's this in Ohio. "County Sheriff Richard Jones has a novel solution for preventing the next school shooting, and it involves putting guns directly in teachers' hands."

Jones said his love and concern for his family is driving his crusade for safer schools and arming teachers, not politics.

He said his daughter, a mother of three, came to his house crying the morning after the Florida shooting. She was worried about her children's safety as she dropped them off for class here.

Butler County was the scene of a school shooting just two years ago. Jones and his deputies responded to Madison Jr/Sr High School on Feb. 29, 2016 when a 15-year-old student opened fire on classmates in the cafeteria, wounding four.

Ohio state law permits concealed carry permit holders to store their guns in the car while in a school zone. But only law enforcement officers can carry firearms into schools unless school boards give permission for others to.

One Butler County school district, Edgewood in Trenton, had a policy in place prior to that permitting "professional staff members" with CCW training and other conditions to keep guns locked in vehicles on school grounds.

We reached out to all school districts in the county earlier this week and, so far, most of them said their school boards have no plans to allow teachers to carry weapons into schools based on Jones' free CCW class: Lakota, Fairfield, Hamilton and Talawanda. We have not heard back yet from Middletown and Madison districts.

"Most school boards are not real excited or have a willingness to arm personnel in the schools," the sheriff acknowledged. "But if you watched on TV last night and watched the victims' families, people are starting to talk, it's getting that time.

Jones said Thursday he plans to reach out to school boards across the county to consider letting teachers who undergo his CCW class take guns into schools to protect students.

"Most school boards are not real excited or have a willingness to arm personnel in the schools," the sheriff acknowledged. "But if you watched on TV last night and watched the victims' families, people are starting to talk, it's getting that time.

"We can't stop the shooters. We can't stop the guns. Most school shootings are over in 3 1/2 to 4 minutes. Police response takes 5 minutes. But we have four minutes. We have to stop as much as we can. The only way we can do that is somebody has to be there with a gun."

He also called on school boards to start taking action on some of the safety upgrades he proposed last week.

They include doing away with fire drills we as know them in light of the deadly mass shooting in Florida and permitting retired military and police officers guard schools that do not have school resource officers or in addition to.

The shooter, who was equipped with a gas mask and smoke grenades, set off a fire alarm to draw students out of classrooms shortly before the day ended at one of the state's largest schools, Broward County's sheriff has said. Jones is concerned others will copy that tactic.

Related stories: 'It's time to take action' Sheriff appeals to Kasich, Trump for armed school guards, end of fire drills

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Schools also should install bulletproof classroom doors, similar to bulletproof cockpits on planes to try to prevent hijackings, he said.

"Just look at all the arrests made in this area of students making threats. The person is alive and well that is planning to beat that 17. We can't wait. We gotta start moving now.

"These school boards gotta stop talking and gotta get into some action. If they form committees, I want people to remember in 9,10 months I told they still won't have anything done The fire drills can be fixed immediately. They can do that with the stroke of a pen. You gotta make your classrooms and schools more resistant and more safe."

In a series of tweets Thursday, President Trump indicated he wants to explore the idea of arming some teachers with military or training and paying them bonuses.

He has been holding meetings in response to the Florida school shooting, including an emotional listening session at the White House Wednesday with survivors, parents and teachers from that and other recent school shooting tragedies.

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