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Ohio Governor Approves New Gun Legislation

In response to a wave of mass shootings, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine (R) signed a law allowing for armed teachers.

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NPR
Jonathan Good
Leans Left
Stephen Webber
Leans Right
Rachel Zelicof
Leans Left

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In the wake of the mass shooting at a school in Uvalde, Texas, and several others around the country in recent weeks, lawmakers have grappled with how to approach gun violence in the United States. While many Democrats have called for stricter gun regulations, Republicans argue for enhanced school security and addressing rampant mental health issues. As part of those proposals, some on the Right have called on states to arm teachers.

On Monday, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine (R) signed a bill to do just that. Under House Bill 99 (HB 99), school districts can allow employees to carry firearms after up to 24 hours of training. Republicans say the law will prevent shootings and save lives, while Democrats say it will result in deadly accidents and send the wrong message. 

Arming Teachers

Reducing Extensive Training. Last year, a narrow majority of the Ohio Supreme Court interpreted a longstanding state law to require teachers to undergo the same training as a peace officer — over 700 hours — before carrying a firearm at school. DeWine and other Republicans argued that the ruling made it unmanageable for districts to arm teachers. In response, they put forth this measure, reducing that requirement substantially. The bill passed through the General Assembly largely along partisan lines, with a handful of Republicans joining unified Democratic opposition.

New Program. DeWine argued that he and the legislature had eliminated hundreds of hours of the existing training program irrelevant to school safety, ensuring the curriculum is specific to schools. Under HB 99, teachers can begin carrying after up to 24 hours of training, although school districts can require additional hours. All programs must receive approval from the Ohio School Safety Center, which is receiving funding for 28 new employees under the legislation to work with the districts to improve security. Armed personnel must take up to eight hours of training each year to remain eligible, which school boards would authorize, pay for, and then notify the public. However, the program is entirely optional, and no teacher will have to carry a weapon if they do not want to.

Other Programs. At a press conference discussing the bill, DeWine touted several other measures he believes will combat shootings, including increased school safety and mental health initiative funding. The state allocated $100 million for school security upgrades and $5 million for universities. Additionally, Ohio has approved $1.2 billion for mental health programs and other school wellness initiatives.

Reactions

Opposition. Several Ohio Democratic Mayors slammed the legislation, saying Republicans failed to consider stricter gun control, such as universal background checks, red flag laws, and raising the legal age to buy a gun to 21. Former Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley, who is running against DeWine for governor, argued that HB 99 makes communities less safe and said DeWine has “once again ignored calls from Ohioans to ‘Do Something’ about gun violence.” 

Several lobbying groups also opposed the measure, including teachers’ unions, the Ohio Fraternal Order of Police, and pro-gun control groups. They argued that arming teachers increases the risk of dangerous accidents and is irresponsible.

Some urban school districts have already announced they will not allow armed teachers, including the two largest in the state — Columbus City Schools and the Cleveland Metropolitan School District.

Republicans Defend. While some Republicans — like DeWine — say they prefer districts hire additional school resource officers, they argue the law presents another tool for schools to protect students. They suggest armed school personnel will discourage shootings and reduce their deadliness. Others claim that the legislation is essential for rural schools. State Representative Thomas Hall (R), who sponsored the bill, said that those districts often cannot afford school resource officers and face longer response times from law enforcement.

Other Measures

STRONG Ohio. Following a mass shooting in Dayton in August 2019, the Governor proposed his “STRONG Ohio” plan, which would impose harsher penalties for violent felons caught with guns and keep guns out of the hands of mentally ill people. It also expanded the state’s existing background checks system. However, his fellow Republicans in the legislature have shown little interest in taking up these proposals.

Removing Restrictions. In recent years Republican lawmakers have eased some firearm laws. In December 2020, they approved a bill changing the rules for using deadly force — known as a “stand your ground” law. Previously, the state required a person to attempt to retreat in public before firing a weapon. Under the new law, Ohioans may shoot wherever they are, provided they “fear for their life or serious bodily injury.”

Earlier this year, Ohio Republicans also passed a “permitless carry” or “constitutional carry” law. This legislation allows Ohioans 21 and older to carry and conceal a firearm without a permit or completing the eight-hour training course that was previously required. After Governor DeWine signed it into law in March, the law took effect on Monday.

Left Narrative

House Bill 99 is a slap in the face of gun violence survivors. Instead of addressing the core cause of gun violence — the vast presence of firearms — Ohio Republicans are doing the exact opposite. Teachers and law enforcement agree with Democrats — putting guns in the classroom is irresponsible and dangerous. This new law allows teachers to carry firearms with almost no hands-on training, greatly increasing the chance of deadly accidents in our schools. We must enact commonsense gun reforms that will actually address the roots of these shootings, including red flag laws and universal background checks.

Left-Lean Narrative

Right-Lean Narrative

Right Narrative

It is a shame that Democrats believe your Second Amendment rights to self-defense stop at the school doors. Having seen the lack of police response in shootings like Uvalde and Parkland, Republicans have taken a step toward ensuring schools are no longer a soft target. Republicans have created an optional program of training to help teachers safely carry their firearms on campus. This preventative measure is a return to how schools operated before the school gun ban and will deter evil individuals from attacking our schools.

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Discussion Questions

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  1. Do you think Governor DeWine’s legislation will prevent mass shootings? Why or why not?
  2. Would you amend any aspect of the law? Why or why not?
  3. Do you believe school districts should allow teachers to carry firearms? Explain your view.
  4. What other measures could Governor DeWine take to mitigate gun violence in Ohio?
  5. Do you think other states should implement a similar program? Why or why not?

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Accompanying Content

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min
MSNBC
Cops and educators denounce Ohio GOP’s wild plan to arm teachers

MSNBC explains Ohio’s House Bill 99 and how it counteracts an earlier ruling by the Ohio Supreme Court. It discusses law enforcement and teacher groups’ opposition to the law and argues this legislation will not reduce gun violence.

Article
Jun 3, 2022
Left
Bias
min
Reason
Ohio Teachers Can Carry Guns With 24 Hours of Training

Ohio is making it easier for teachers and school employees to carry weapons. Some argue that it will help stop school shootings. Others may suggest that teachers don’t lose their Second Amendment rights when they go to work.

Article
Jun 14, 2022
Leans Right
Bias
1
min
Newsweek
Ohio Teachers Can Bring Guns To Class After 24 Hours Of Training: Governor

Ohio Governor Mike DeWine (R) explains House Bill 99 — an Ohio bill allowing school districts to arm teachers.

Video
Jun 13, 2022
Leans Right
Bias
9
min
PBS
Would Arming Teachers Make Schools Safer?

PBS: Above the Noise covers the debate around arming teachers and asks students their opinion on the issue.

Video
Nov 6, 2019
Mixed
Bias
See All

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