COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — House Bill 99, which allows teachers to carry guns in their classrooms, is officially in effect.
The bill, signed into law by Gov. Mike DeWine this past June, did not have bipartisan support: four Republicans joined all Democrats in voting against it.
The law does not mean every teacher or school staffer will have a gun in hand; the decision is up to local school boards
“It does absolutely nothing to stop gun violence,” Representative Allison Russo (D-Upper Arlington) said. “In fact, it makes our schools and our students less safe.”
“Some schools might have more security, application, and ways to protect students than other districts do,” Representative Jon Cross (R-Kenton) said. “So, this is another tool in the toolbox we hopefully never have to use.”
The law requires anyone applying to carry a gun in a school to undergo an initial 24 hours of school-specific training plus an additional eight hours annually
School staff who do opt into carrying a gun also have to undergo annual criminal background checks.
Cross said those guidelines are not set in stone but are what they feel is best right now.
“It might be tough to stop the unstoppable,” Cross said. “But we are trying to do our best to prevent and stop anything that happens as soon as we can.”
Shepard School Founding Principal Amber Estis said there are better ways to keep students safe.
“All of my staff has been certified in stop the bleed, which is a very life-saving tourniquet training,” Estis said. “If a teacher has a firearm, you just opened the door for that emergency situation to happen and it to not be because of an active shooter or threat on the school.”
The Ohio School Safety Center [OSSC] Is tasked with developing a training curriculum. The law gave the center $6 million, but the program is not finalized yet. When asked, here is what the center said:
“We are working as quickly as we can to finalize the curriculum, create a process to approve alternate curriculum, and fill out the roster of the regional mobile training officers. Once finalized, the OSSC will use this curriculum to train school staff members authorized by their school districts to carry firearms. No training requests have been received because the state’s training is still being developed.”
Russo said this is not the end of the line for this law.
“You’ll see Democrats introducing a number of pieces of legislation that will overturn some of the radical gun legislation we’ve seen passed,” she said.
Russo said Democrats plan to introduce those bills to overturn the law at the start of next year, when the new General Assembly begins. Cross said it is unlikely Democrats will have enough votes to overturn the new law.