Ohio Republican Gov. Mike DeWine on Monday signed into law a bill that cuts the number of training hours that teachers, principals, and other school staff must complete in order to carry guns from about 700 hours to a mere 24.
Under the new legislation, school personnel will only have to complete four scenario-based training hours, in addition to 20 hours covering first aid, the history of school shootings, and how to ensure that students are reunited with their parents after a school emergency, The Columbus Dispatch reported.
In Ohio, it’s up to local education boards whether or not to allow teachers to be armed. (Teachers themselves generally oppose carrying guns in schools, surveys have shown.)
In response to the Republican-controlled senate passing the bill last week, Cleveland Mayor Justin Bibb said his city’s district would continue to ban teachers from becoming armed. “As mayor of Cleveland, I feel paralyzed and handcuffed by the lack of real comprehensive gun legislation in Congress and the fact that we have a state that doesn’t give me, as mayor, the tools I need to combat the illegal trafficking of guns that plague our city day in and day out,” Bibb said, according to Cleveland.com.
All Democrats in the Ohio legislature voted against the bill in the Senate last week, with two Republicans joining them. “They just wanted to say they were doing something and what they’ve gotten away with is unconscionable,” Democratic state Senator Teresa Fedor, a former fourth grade teacher, told The New York Times. “They will have blood on their hands.”
Opposition to the bill included teachers, school board members, and police union representatives, some of whom testified during committee hearings.
The “woefully inadequate” training requirement, said Robert Meader, the recently retired commander of the Columbus Division of Police, would “cause harmful accidents and potentially even needless deaths.”
Cleveland Teachers Union president Shari Obrenski noted the irony in the state legislature approving this move while also essentially telling teachers how to teach via bills implicitly targeting critical race theory. “Educators are being told we are not trusted to decide what to teach in the classroom, a job we study for and are licensed to do,” she testified last month, per The Washington Post. “But we are trusted to have loaded guns around children with far less training than is required to drive a car.”
Nevertheless, GOP state Senator Niraj Antani insisted that the bill he voted for is worthwhile. It is “probably the most important thing we have done to prevent a school shooter in Ohio,” he said, according to the Times.
DeWine signed the bill the same day that another piece of legislation, which nixes the requirement for concealed handgun carriers to obtain a license to do so, went into effect.