The Ohio Supreme Court is currently considering a case that could force thousands of staffers in dozens of school districts to quit carrying firearms on the job unless they undergo hundreds of hours of law-enforcement training, and now the state’s attorney general has weighed in on the side of the armed school staff and the districts that have made the decision to have trained and vetted school staff carry in schools as a first line of defense against armed assailants.
Attorney General Dave Yost argues in his brief that the school districts who’ve adopted the policies didn’t hire their staffers to be “armed while on duty.”
“They just voluntarily choose to carry a weapon,” Yost’s brief states. “No one would describe a salesman or a valet who carries a concealed weapon as being ‘employed in a position in which such person goes armed while on duty.’”
Attorneys for Everytown for Gun Safety disagree. They’re backing a couple of parents in the Madison School District who filed suit over the armed school staff, and they managed to get a state appeals court to buy into their argument that if teachers and staff are carrying, they need to undergo more than 700 hours of peace officer training before they can legally do so.
The law they cite states that no school “shall employ a person as a special police officer, security guard, or other position in which such person goes armed while on duty,” unless that person has completed either peace-officer training or served at least 20 years as an active-duty officer.
Legislators in Ohio have noted that they’ve funded training programs like FASTER Ohio, which provides 26 hours of training over three days to school staff who’ve volunteered to carry on the job. If the legislature really intended for armed school staff to undergo peace officer training, why would they allocate any money towards a program like FASTER?
Hopefully the state supreme court makes the right decision here and reverses the appellate court’s decision. If not, the legislature may have to go back to work and pass a bill that specifically declares that volunteer school staff do not have to become police officers in order to carry on the job. That’s probably doable in the Republican-controlled legislature, but Gov. Mike DeWine could play politics and refuse to sign the bill unless lawmakers also approve his Ohio STRONG gun control package, which to date hasn’t received much support from his fellow Republicans in the statehouse.
For the sake of student safety, it would be an easier and faster fix if the courts handle this instead of the legislature, but I suspect that one way or another, Everytown for Gun Safety is going to eventually lose their battle to keep Ohio’s teachers disarmed while on the job.