It’s been barely a week since a gunman in Uvalde, Texas, massacred 19 children and two teachers, but Ohio Republicans have already snapped into action with a new bill that reduces the amount of training required for teachers and other school staff who want to carry handguns on school grounds.
House Bill 99 was reportedly rushed through both the state House and Senate in a single day. Gov. Mike DeWine, a Republican, has already announced that he plans to sign it into law.
Barring an unexpected development, this means that school staff will no longer have to go through the 737 hours of training required under current law to wield deadly weapons on campus. The new minimum amount of training outlined by the bill is 24 hours.
Under the tortured logic of the new Ohio legislation, armed school staff with only 24 hours of training will now be expected to do what Uvalde law enforcement could not: incapacitate or possibly kill a would-be mass shooter before a multitude of lives are lost. Such a policy could also make it more likely that a school employee will shoot someone who isn’t a deadly threat.
Republicans claim that they’re streamlining redundancies in the current training program. But many Ohio teachers seem unwilling to shoulder the grave new responsibility that the state legislature has thrust upon them. Teachers unions reportedly lined up against the measure, with representatives from the Ohio Federation of Teachers testifying in opposition.
Ohio lawmakers are considering a bill to allow armed teachers in schools & limit them to 24 hours of training
Shari Obrenski, VP of Ohio Federation of Teachers: "We aren't trusted with the books we choose, but somehow we're supposed to be trusted with a gun in school?" pic.twitter.com/G8ZYs3RtaV
— Tyler Buchanan (@Tylerjoelb) May 31, 2022
Mike Weinman, a representative from the Ohio Fraternal Order of Police, also spoke in opposition, contrasting the proposed 24 hours of training for teachers with the 60 hours of firearms training required for Ohio police officers.
“Our communities expect officers to be highly trained in the use of force and de-escalation; we should expect the same from armed school staff members,” he said.
The Ohio bill continues a long-running pattern in which GOP-dominated state legislatures react to mass shootings by making guns easier to obtain. According to the Texas Tribune, Texas politicians have consistently responded to previous massacres by green-lighting bills that increase the presence of firearms. After the racist mass shooting in El Paso in 2019, for example, the Texas state legislature passed a bill allowing Texans to open-carry handguns without a permit.