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The Statehouse News Bureau provides educational, comprehensive coverage of legislation, elections, issues and other activities surrounding the Statehouse to Ohio's public radio and television stations.

Mike DeWine signs bill reducing required training for teachers to carry guns in schools

 Gov. Mike DeWine, a Republican, announces he signed HB99 which reduces the required hours of training for teachers to carry guns in school. [Andy Chow /  Statehouse News Bureau]
Gov. Mike DeWine, a Republican, announces he signed HB99 which reduces the required hours of training for teachers to carry guns in school.

Teachers and school staff will have to receive at least 24 hours of training before being allowed to carry a firearm in the classroom, which is down from the more than 700 hours that was once required in the state.

Gov. Mike DeWine, a Republican, made the announcement shortly after signing a bill that revised the rules to let local school districts arm their teachers.

The bill, HB99, creates the Ohio School Safety and Crisis Center within the Ohio Department of Public Safety. That center will be tasked with creating a training course for teachers and staff to complete in order to carry guns in schools. The decision to arm school personnel or not is still up to local districts.

DeWine, during a press event in Columbus on Monday, emphasized that point.

“Ultimately, that school is going to have to ensure the safety of the child. They're going to have to do the best they can. My job is to give them the best I can to help them do that. And what we've outlined today is a very aggressive plan to do that,” DeWine said.

DeWine announced Monday that he is asking the school safety center to require the maximum amount of training, which is set at 24 hours. The center will also require school personnel receive an additional eight hours of training every year to be armed. School districts are allowed to seek training from a resource outside of the Ohio School Safety and Crisis Center but that curriculum must be approved by the center and must still provide 24 hours of training.

House Minority Leader Allison Russo (D-Upper Arlington) noted that DeWine signed HB99 on the same day another law – that allows people to carry a concealed weapon without a permit – went into effect.

Russo, while reflecting on the mass shootings at the elementary school in Uvalde, TX and the supermarket in Buffalo, NY, said expanding the ability for teachers to carry guns in schools is not the right move for Ohio.

“Innocent children and people were murdered. But today, it’s business as usual for Statehouse Republicans who continue to ignore Ohioans’ cries for commonsense gun safety measures that will keep our communities safe. Make no mistake, these tragedies will continue to occur until Republicans decide to value the lives of children, families and law enforcement more than they value the approval of the gun lobby,” said Russo in a written statement.

The new law is in response to an Ohio Supreme Court ruling in 2021 that said armed school personnel needed to receive peace officer training, which comes with more than 700 hours of instruction.

The state’s largest teachers’ union, Ohio Education Association, said HB99 guts training and could lead to more tragic events in schools.

“Our students and educators need to be in safe environments where they can focus on teaching and learning, not on the threat of having unprepared, woefully undertrained people — regardless of their good intentions — making split-second life-or-death decisions about whether to pull the trigger in a chaotic classroom full of innocent bystanders.” said OEA President Scott DiMauro in a statement.

Democratic leaders and other community advocates have been calling for more gun regulations in Ohio to prevent gun violence.

In 2019, a crowd chanted “Do Something” as DeWine spoke at a vigil for the victims of the Dayton shooting. He was asked Monday if signing HB99 answered that call. DeWine said they have been working on passing several measures to reduce gun violence, such as increased penalties for repeat violent offenders caught with a weapon.

“We are trying to do and have been trying to do every single day things that keep people safer, keep kids in school safer, but also these same children who go home to neighborhoods where there is violent crime and repeat violent offenders, their lives are important too,” said DeWine. “There's nothing more important to me than protecting children, and we're going to continue to do this as long as I'm governor.”

DeWine also mentioned some of the measures he first introduced in the aftermath of the Dayton mass shooting in 2019, saying he still wants to see the legislature pass increased penalties for “straw purchases” and a law allowing a constitutional safety protection order process.

Copyright 2022 The Statehouse News Bureau. To see more, visit The Statehouse News Bureau.