COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – Gov. Mike DeWine took time Friday to further explain his interpretation of the bill he signed allowing school staff to carry firearms, which came in a letter sent to Ohio school superintendents.
The governor saved his talking points for House Bill 99 — which allows staff to carry a gun in school with approval from their local school board — for the third page of his letter. He immediately stressed that Ohio’s superintendents aren’t being forced to implement the rule, and there are other options.
“Arming school personnel is a serious decision that is left up entirely to your school. It is optional,” DeWine wrote. “However, I have made it clear that, in my opinion, the much-preferred option is to have a school resource officer in each school building … Hiring retired law enforcement officers in your schools is also something you might consider when deciding whether or not to arm a school employee.”
DeWine also wrote that if schools do decide to go forward with arming their staff, they should be selective on who gets to carry.
“If you decide to arm a school employee, the selection of the right person or persons is obviously extremely important, and having the right temperament, good judgment and prior familiarity with guns all would be factors to consider,” DeWine said.
HB 99 allows an employee to carry a gun, if approved by the local school board, after that worker gets 24 hours of training. Four of those hours involve actual hands-on training with a handgun. The bill trimmed down previous requirements, which DeWine said came from the Ohio Supreme Court. The judges ruled in 2021 that anyone armed in a school had to have the same training as a police officer, totaling over 700 hours.
“Up until about a year ago, Ohio law allowed schools to arm a teacher or other non-security personnel without any minimum training,” DeWine said.
Read the full letter DeWine sent to the state’s superintendents below: