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Ohio House will vote on bill to lower training for armed teachers, school staff

A sign on a central Ohio elementary school, indicating a gun-free zone as defined by state law. House Bill 99 would allow teachers and staff who have completed eight hours of concealed carry permit training to be armed in school.
Karen Kasler
Statehouse News Bureau
A sign on a central Ohio elementary school indicates the school is a gun-free zone as defined by state law. House Bill 99 would allow teachers and staff who have completed eight hours of concealed carry permit training to be armed in school.

The full Ohio House will vote on a Republican-backed bill that would allow teachers and staff to carry guns in school with the eight hours of training they receive with their concealed carry permit and some additional work, and not more thorough training as currently required by law.

The bill was approved by a House committee Wednesday on a party-line vote.

Current law requires employees who aren't school resource officers to complete 729 hours of peace officer training to be armed in schools or to have 20 years of law enforcement experience.

Under House Bill 99, armed teachers and school staff would have to have a concealed carry permit, which requires eight hours of training, plus take 18 hours of "general training" and two hours of handgun training.

The Buckeye Firearms Association is among the supporters of the bill. Only a few have testified in favor of it. But more than 100 people testified against the bill in April, and more than 80 people testified against the bill last week.

Columbus Police Commander Robert Meader told the House Criminal Justice Committee the Ohio Peace Officers Training Commission should have the responsibility to develop training standards for school workers, giving as an example the night he had to confront an armed teenager on a routine call.

“Would you want a school official with this scant training to make that same decision in that same moment?" Meader said, as members of the gun control advocacy group Moms Demand Action, who had testified earlier, sat behind him. "I will challenge this group and the men and women behind me irrespective of their ideology. You can have as much dead bodies as you’re willing to legislate.”

The bill does allow school districts to require more training than the standard set in the law.

The sponsor of the bill, Rep. Thomas Hall (R-Middletown), is the son of a school resource officer involved in a shooting that left four people injured at Madison High School in Butler County in 2016. Hall's father chased the shooter out of the building.

Parents sued the district when it lowered the training requirements for armed school employees. The case was argued before the Ohio Supreme Court in January. The court split 4-3 when it ruled in June that the district violated state law by allowing certain staff to be armed without completing a peace officer training program or possessing 20 years experience.
Copyright 2021 The Statehouse News Bureau. To see more, visit The Statehouse News Bureau.

Karen is a lifelong Ohioan who has served as news director at WCBE-FM, assignment editor/overnight anchor at WBNS-TV, and afternoon drive anchor/assignment editor in WTAM-AM in Cleveland. In addition to her daily reporting for Ohio’s public radio stations, she’s reported for NPR, the BBC, ABC Radio News and other news outlets. She hosts and produces the Statehouse News Bureau’s weekly TV show “The State of Ohio”, which airs on PBS stations statewide. She’s also a frequent guest on WOSU TV’s “Columbus on the Record”, a regular panelist on “The Sound of Ideas” on ideastream in Cleveland, appeared on the inaugural edition of “Face the State” on WBNS-TV and occasionally reports for “PBS Newshour”. She’s often called to moderate debates, including the Columbus Metropolitan Club’s Issue 3/legal marijuana debate and its pre-primary mayoral debate, and the City Club of Cleveland’s US Senate debate in 2012.