I’m used to anti-gun bias in the media, but this headline by the Associated Press in Ohio isn’t just bias. It’s fake news.
Note that the first sentence of the actual story tells a much different story than the headline. It’s not that the Madison Local school district is arguing that teachers shouldn’t have to undergo any training before they can carry a gun as part of an armed school staff policy; they’re saying they “shouldn’t have to first provide police-level training to those workers.”
That’s a pretty big difference, isn’t it? And it still doesn’t accurately describe the position of the Madison schools, which is that the school staff who volunteer, are vetted, and undergo a three-day course specifically designed for teachers to respond to an active assailant attack are not required under Ohio law to go through 728 hours of law enforcement training before they can lawfully carry a firearm to protect students.
The reason for this story, by the way, is that the Ohio Supreme Court heard oral arguments today in a challenge to the school district’s policy brought by several parents in the district and assisted by the gun control group Everytown for Gun Safety, which opposes districts adopting armed school staff policies. Of course the Associated Press doesn’t mention that. Quite the opposite, actually. This is how they describe the plaintiffs.
Parents maintain the state appeals court made the correct decision, saying state law is clear that schools can’t hire employees who are armed who don’t go through police officer training.
The parents “are concerned about the tragic and fatal accidents that could befall their children when armed school staff have insufficient training and are carrying firearms all day, every day, in their children’s classrooms and on the playground,” attorneys for the parents said in an October court filing.
They noted that the parents don’t oppose gun rights and that several are, in fact, gun owners.
They take care to note that several parents are gun owners and “don’t oppose gun rights”, but there’s no mention of Everytown’s involvement in the case, even though Everytown itself has issued press releases bragging about it. That’s absolutely ridiculous. Even if I was a gun control supporter I’d be appalled, because as a journalist you just can’t leave something that important that out of the story.
The Associated Press also fails to acknowledge that the county sheriff supports the idea of armed school staffers, though it does note the opposition by the state’s Fraternal Order of Police. The really sad thing is that most of the folks who see this report won’t have any idea how one-sided it is and what information is being left out.
I’ve never met reporters Andrew Welsh-Huggins or Dan Sewell, who both worked on this story. I have no idea what their politics are. Maybe someone else wrote the headline, which was either a conscious decision to mislead readers or the kind of screwup that should result in no longer writing headlines. I don’t know for sure why Everytown’s involvement in the case was left out of the story. It could have been an intentional attempt to avoid bringing the gun control group into the story, though I suppose it could also be chalked up to not knowing how to do an Internet search.
Whatever the motivation, these are clear errors that need to be addressed. Whether they will be, of course, is another story.