Ohio's armed teacher bill stumbling towards the finish line?

AP Photo/ Rick Bowmer

It’s been frustrating to watch the almost glacial progress being made with one particular piece of legislation in Ohio over the past few months. No, not Constitutional Carry, which has seen two bills pass out of their house of origin in recent weeks. I’m talking about HB 99, which has cleared the state House but has been stuck in a Senate committee for over a month now.

The bill would fix a problem with the state’s current armed school staff statutes, which the Ohio Supreme Court has ruled require all armed school employees to undergo the 700+ hours of training required to be certified law enforcement officer. Under HB 99, school employees would be specifically exempted from the peace officer training requirement, and instead would establish more reasonable training requirements for those staff members who volunteer to serve as a first line of defense for the students and employees on campus.

There are dozens of school districts and thousands of educators in the state who’ve already undergone FASTER training and were lawfully carrying on campus without incident before the state Supreme Court issued its ruling putting the practice on ice. HB 99 would simply restore the ability of those districts to decide for themselves how best to ensure the safety of students and staff, but gun control activists are pushing hard to keep the 700+ hour mandate in place by misleading voters about the bill and what it would do.

Let’s give guns the respect they deserve and pass sensible laws that require owners to prove their capability of the great responsibility of owning a gun, not pass laws that make us all less safe. House Bill 99 is up for a vote in the Ohio Senate. This bill would allow teachers to carry loaded guns in Ohio elementary, middle and high schools without completing the safety training required by current Ohio law.

Not true. The bill would absolutely require training for all armed school staff. They just wouldn’t need to undergo 700+ hours of training on things like defensive driving, evidence collection, and other aspects of law enforcement that are completely inapplicable to their role as a first responder in the case of an attack on the school and those inside.

To be clear, I’m not trying to take away the right to own a gun. I’m trying to bring awareness to the seriousness of gun ownership. And with that ownership comes responsibility, including keeping guns out of schools. We have an individual duty to store guns in a manner that prevents them from making their way onto school campuses, and collectively we have a responsibility to keep our school campuses safe from unnecessary harm. Our current policies and proposed policies are too loose – we need to do better to keep our children safe.

I hate to break it to the author of this piece, but we’ve got all kinds of rules and laws designed to prevent weapons and drugs from making their way inside of high-security facilities like prisons, and even with those laws in place there’s a booming black market behind bars, with fatal drug and alcohol overdoses in prison up 600% since 2001. We could turn our schools into literal prisons, but that alone won’t be enough to stop bad actors from bringing guns onto school grounds if they’re hellbent on committing heinous acts. and neither would mandatory storage laws or other mandates aimed at legal gun owners.

Armed school staff policies recognize the simple reality that we can’t ban our way to safety, and that we should be prepared for the unthinkable as much as possible. I can’t imagine that any teacher or staff member who volunteers to serve as an armed human shield for students and co-workers is eager to put their defensive gun skills to the test, but they are willing to put themselves at risk in order to save the lives of others, and it’s imperative that the state Senate approve HB 99 and allow for these armed school staff programs to resume across Ohio.