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Government & Politics

House Bill Sets Minimum Required Training for Teachers and Staff to Carry Guns in Schools

Ben Adams, opponent of HB99
The Ohio Channel
Ben Adams, an opponent of HB99, was one of the parents involved in a lawsuit filed against Madison Local Schools in Butler County after a school shooting in 2016.

Lawmakers are considering a proposal that would allow teachers and school workers to carry guns in schools, if they have the eight hours of training that comes with earning a concealed carry license. The bill, which gives local school districts the authority to require additional training, is sparking a debate on how to keep students safe in the classroom.

The House bill, HB99, would clarify a law currently being argued at the Ohio Supreme Court.  

It gives school districts the power to allow teachers to be armed in schools as long as they complete the concealed carry training, which is eight hours long.  

Rep. Thomas Hall (R-Middletown) said, from there, his bill gives local officials the authority to come up with a school safety plan that could include more training. 

"Educators should have the ability to carry firearms in the classroom to protect students and staff. In my bill, we simply give local control to allow for the local school boards and local governing bodies to decide what amount of training is necessary to allow teachers to carry a firearm in a school safety zone," Hall told the House Criminal Justice Committee in March. 

The origin of this bill stems from a 2016 school shooting at Madison High School in Butler County that left four people injured. Hall's father was the school resource officer that chased the shooter out of the building. 

Madison Local Schools then approved a plan to arm teachers, which was met with a lawsuit filed by parents in the district. Ben Adams is one of them. He appeared before the House Criminal Justice committee to oppose Hall's bill. Adams said eight hours of training is not enough. 

"It is less training than you would need to become a manicurist in Ohio. It is less training than the bus driver needs. That is deeply irresponsible to me, and it's wrong, someone with so little training should not be trusted to carry firearms in the school with my children," Adams said.

More than 130 people submitted written testimony to oppose the bill. That includes advocates for more gun regulation, law enforcement, and teachers. 

"We don't think that's appropriate for teachers to be carrying weapons in school. That's not what they're licensed to do. And even if they had some kind of some kind of training, there are a lot of a lot of other issues that need to be considered," said Melissa Cropper, president of the Ohio Federation of Teachers, a teacher's union.  

Cropper says assessing and de-escalating a dangerous situation are other vital skills that need to be considered. 

Joseph Eaton, with the Buckeye Firearms Association, is a supporter of the legislation. He says teachers with concealed carry licenses can legally carry their firearm to other places, and they should have that right extended into the schools. 

"When they're out in public with their children, with their family, and with their friends. But if a school wishes them to have that same option for personal protection and the protection of other ones while they're in the schools the other eight or 10 or more hours that our school staff give every single day, then suddenly that should require months of additional training that are not required for the rest of us that are not simply school staff," said Eaton during a committee hearing. 

The Buckeye Firearms Association's nonprofit or 501(c)3, the Buckeye Firearms Foundation, operates a program that schools have used for additional training. 

As of now the pending supreme court case could decide if school districts are allowed to set their own training requirements or if it must follow the rules of a school resource officer. That involves more than 730 hours of peace officer training
Copyright 2021 The Statehouse News Bureau. To see more, visit The Statehouse News Bureau.