COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – The latest development in Ohio gun legislation came as — in the aftermath of a Texas elementary school shooting — lawmakers debated a bill that would let education staff carry guns in state schools.
House Bill 99, sponsored by Rep. Thomas Hall, would let any adult in a public or private school carry a firearm within that school’s safety zone if they met initial and recurring training requirements set by the law. The bill passed in the Ohio House 59 to 33, and went before the Ohio Senate’s Veterans and Public Safety Committee Tuesday afternoon. A majority of public commenters, including representatives from the Ohio Fraternal Order of Police and the Ohio Federation of Teachers, spoke in opposition to the bill in front of senators on the committee.
Analysis of the bill from the Ohio Legislative Service Commission shows that it makes training requirements before a teacher or other school employee would be allowed to carry a handgun on campus:
- 18 hours of general training
- Two hours of handgun training
- Two hours of “additional” general training
- Two hours of “additional” handgun training
The bill also requires the employee to have a valid concealed handgun license for them to carry a firearm in schools. It’s not clear if Ohio’s upcoming “constitutional carry” gun law for anyone 21 and older will have an effect on this requirement for teachers as of Tuesday.
Other key points of the bill deal with the school’s governing body, like a board of education. The bill charges that group with authorizing each individual staff member who wants to carry a firearm, and also requires them to notify the public that they have allowed that employee to work armed at the school.
Current law requires a school employee who wants to carry a gun to go through basic peace officer training, or have 20 years of prior experience as a peace officer. This program includes a minimum of 737 hours of training compared to the 24 hours required of school staff under the proposed bill, according to Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost.
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine briefly mentioned the bill to arm teachers, telling reporters during a meeting before Memorial Day weekend that he asked the Ohio General Assembly to pass it and implement “adequate, scenario-based training” for education staff to carry. It was one of three bills the governor touted as preventative measures in the wake of the Robb Elementary School shooting, which left 19 children and two teachers dead.
While HB99 became a focal point for the governor and the Ohio General Assembly after the Texas shooting, it was not created in response to the incident in Uvalde. Sponsors of the bill introduced it in the House’s chambers as far back as Feb. 9, 2021 Pro-gun groups like Ohio Gun Owners saw it, a bill marking gun stores and ranges as “essential services,” and a bill making Ohio a Second Amendment “safe haven” as three to support in the 2022 legislative session.
View the full bill as passed by the Ohio House of Representatives — and under review by the Senate — below: