Ohio will pass a law that would allow teachers and school staff to bring firearms to schools after 24 hours of training, instead of the current 700 hours.
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine, a Republican, said on June 3 that he would sign laws to equip teachers and school staff with guns. After completing the first 24-hour training session, gun owners will undergo criminal background checks and an additional 8 hours of training each year.
On May 24, a shooting at an elementary school in Uwald, Texas, killed 21 people, and the bill was approved by the Republican-majority Ohio Congress. Texas security forces have been criticized for being slow to intervene to stop the attackers.
Supporters say Ohio’s new law will allow school staff to confront armed attackers before police arrive. “In a school emergency, life and death are fleeting and tragedy can be avoided,” said Thomas Hall, who initiated the bill.
The new law aims to shorten the training time required for teachers and school staff. Under current Ohio law, teachers must complete more than 700 hours of training before they are allowed to bring firearms into schools.
“In the wake of the Uwald shooting, the governor’s office discussed with lawmakers to eliminate hundreds of hours of instruction not related to school safety, ensuring the focus is on things that are critical to the environment. Schools,” DeWine said.
The Ohio Board of Education and the Ohio Federation of Teachers issued a joint statement expressing concern that the bill was too hasty and did not adequately assess the risks. They said the bill “puts educators in a situation where they have to make immediate life-or-death decisions without adequate training. This inevitably leads to more tragedies in schools.”
If a decision is made to allow teachers to carry weapons on school property, the district will be required to notify parents. It is unclear how many school districts agreed to do so.
Hong Han (follow Reuters)