Thursday, dozens of individuals and interest groups will unite to testify in opposition to House Bill 99 during House Criminal Justice Committee. The bill would allow teachers and school staff to carry guns on school grounds with no training beyond what is required for a concealed carry license, just eight hours of total training – six hours of classroom study and only two hours of on-range training.
“We all agree on the goal – we want to keep kids safe at school,” said Rep. David Leland (D-Columbus), Ranking Member on the House Criminal Justice Committee. “But this bill doesn’t even require school staff to have ever hit the target during target practice before they’re given the thumbs-up to use deadly force in a classroom full of kids.”
This isn’t the first time this has been considered. In 2014, then-Attorney General, now Governor Mike DeWine signed off on a recommendation for a model curriculum for such armed teachers and staff requiring not less than 152 hours of training for teachers and school staff who would go armed. The letter is attached.
“There are three major problems with this bill,” said Rep. Leland. “First, experts agree you need training to overcome the body’s intense physiological response to someone shooting at you – otherwise, your accuracy decreases, your peripheral vision gets impaired, and you have difficulty figuring out who’s a threat and who’s not. Second, parents are not given any notice about these programs – they won’t have to be told school staff are armed, won’t know if there are training requirements, and won’t know if there are mental health checks. Third, without safe-storage protections, kids are going to get ahold of staff members’ guns – it’s already happened in Ohio.”
The bill has complex origins. Before 2020, school districts across Ohio had taken to arming teachers. Many school boards even did this in secret – they would call an executive session and amend their school safety plans to authorize arming teachers and staff. Since school safety plans are not subject to public records requests, parents and staff had no way of knowing if staff were being authorized to secretly carry guns or what was involved in that process.
However, in March, 2020, the Twelfth District Court of Appeals found that it was illegal for school districts to engage in the practice of arming school staff unless that staff had completed a basic peace officer training program or had 20 years of active service as a peace officer. The court issued an immediate injunction against the practice. House Bill 99 would expressly preempt any appeal findings in that case by codifying into law that school boards can authorize any school staff with a CCW permit to go armed in a school.
House Bill 99 is receiving its third hearing before the Ohio House Criminal Justice Committee. The hearing is scheduled for Thursday, April 15, at 11 a.m.