On Monday, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine (R-Ohio) signed a bill into law that could see teachers and other school employees start arming themselves as soon as this fall.
Politico reports that the law requires an employee to undergo at least 24 hours of training before they can arm themselves, and that they must maintain up to eight hours of annual training to maintain their status. The programs that will train such employees must be approved by the Ohio School Safety Center. Individual schools will be permitted to provide additional training if they so desire.
DeWine highlighted that the bill is just one of several safety measures that he and Republican lawmakers in the state are considering in the near future; DeWine has also promoted spending as much as $100 million on school security upgrades throughout the state, as well as $5 million on security upgrades for colleges.
The new law will be “giving schools an option, based on their particular circumstances, to make the best decision they can make with the best information they have,” DeWine said at the signing of the bill. He also admitted that, while his personal preference is for school districts to hire more armed school resource officers, this new bill will provide an option for schools that may want to provide protection but are unable to make such new hires.
But Democrats from across the state, including mayors of the biggest cities, criticized the new law and instead advocated for more gun control measures, including red flag laws, raising the minimum age to purchase firearms, and an outright ban on assault rifles. Toledo Mayor Wade Kapszukiewicz (D-Ohio) declared that “all of these things are common sense,” and also said that “we’re in a situation where we can’t pass legislation that 95 percent of our citizens support.” Kapszukiewicz provided no evidence to back up his “95 percent” claim.
Other measures that DeWine has already taken include adding 28 new employees to the school safety center, to work specifically on safety issues and to provide training under the new law. The state has also allocated $1.2 billion in wellness funding to make it easier for schools to handle mental health issues. DeWine has also unveiled a “STRONG Ohio” program, which includes proposals to increase penalties for violent felons caught with guns, as well as measures to make it more difficult for mentally ill people to own firearms.