COLUMBUS – Rep. Michele Lepore-Hagan (D-Youngstown) yesterday voted in opposition to a bill opponents say would make schools and communities less safe and fail to address gun violence in Ohio. House Bill (HB) 99 would allow school districts to arm teachers in the classroom without adequate training or safe storage requirements.
“I come from a family of educators. Like the rest of the state, we are all speaking in a clear and loud voice, saying that guns do not belong in classrooms,” said Rep. Lepore-Hagan. “I am so ashamed to see what this extreme, Republican-controlled state government has become.”
Teachers and law enforcement are opposed to bringing more guns into schools. A 2018 survey found that 80% of teachers were “strongly opposed” to having armed faculty in schools. Ohio’s Fraternal Order of Police noted that the minimal training required by HB 99 is significantly less than the hundreds of hours of training required for police officers. Democrats expressed similar concerns, noting that HB 99 requires that initial instruction and training may not exceed 24 hours, and annual requalification training may not exceed 8 hours.
Gun violence rates in Ohio surged in 2020, with 25 mass shootings recorded, up from 14 the year before. Emerging data shows that states that have passed permitless carry legislation are experiencing a substantial increase in gun violence.
“Our children, our educators and our communities deserve a safe and prosperous future. These bills make me wonder whether Republicans want them to have a future at all,” said Rep. Lepore-Hagan. “I voted ‘no’ because I love our children and I want to keep them safe. More bullets do not stop a bullet. It’s just more violence. I will not have the blood of future victims on my hands.”
After passing the House and Senate, the legislation now heads to Governor DeWine. DeWine has publicly committed to signing HB 99 into law, a move, like others, that is in stark contrast to promises he made following a 2019 mass shooting in Dayton, Ohio, which left 9 dead and 27 injured. This prompted calls from Ohioans to “do something.” Despite these calls and assurances that he would finally take action against gun violence, DeWine recently signed SB 215 into law. This bill made concealed weapon permits optional for those 21 and older. It also eliminated the requirement of prompt notification to law enforcement when carrying a concealed weapon which, like HB 99, quickly raised objections from police.
“Governor DeWine promised the Mayor of Dayton and people of this state that he would ‘do something’ to make us more safe. It’s clear that he cares more about re-election and appealing to the most extreme fractions of the Republican party,” said Rep. Lepore-Hagan. “A majority of Ohioans want real action and real common sense gun safety reform. I am standing with them.”