Armed teacher proponents push continuing education over police training
Supporters of a bill that would allow teachers and other school personnel to carry guns in schools with concealed carry permits say the amount of training shouldn’t just be about the hours, but the consistency.
Sgt. David Spicer, of the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office, told the House Criminal Justice Committee the armed teacher program he uses in his county is a “CCW plus” program, teaching not only the basic concealed carry training but also building clearing tactics that law enforcement learns, and more range time than is required under Ohio law.
“It’s kind of unfortunate to say, but the teachers that are in our program shoot as well or better than the cops I train,” Spicer said.
Under House Bill 99, the minimum training needed to carry a firearm in schools would be that of a CCW license, which is eight hours.
While Spicer said he supports the bill, he says there should be regular checkpoints for the training, not just checked boxes for a license.
“As I feel with law enforcement officers, continued training is the most important thing (rather) than stacking a whole bunch of training requirements on them at the very beginning,” Spicer said.
The proposed bill seeks to clarify current law regarding school security personnel, something that is also part of court case currently sitting with the Ohio Supreme Court.
The court case stems from Madison Local Schools in Butler County, where the board of education authorized a firearms policy as part of their school security plan after a shooting there in 2016. After the policy was put in place, parents and advocacy groups sued, saying the only qualifications allowing a person to carry a gun in school were those laid out in the Ohio Peace Officer Training Academy, more than 700 hours of training made specifically for law enforcement.
An appeals court ruled against the district’s authority to determine training levels, leading to the Ohio Supreme Court’s consideration. The state’s highest court heard oral arguments at the beginning of the year, but has not released a ruling in the case.
A member of the pro-gun lobby Buckeye Firearms Association, which runs a training program tailored to teachers, testified in support of the bill saying clarification of the law was made necessary because of the court fight.
“The recent court of appeals decision has injected a level of absurdity into many school’s safety plans and really demands that this legislature clarify what the intent of this law is,” Joseph Eaton told the committee.
The Criminal Justice Committee’s vice-chair, state Rep. D.J. Swearingen, R-Huron, mentioned a potential amendment to the bill which would push the minimum training hours to 20. That amendment was not officially presented in the most recent hearing on the bill, but the bill will see future hearings, including the opportunity for opponent testimony.
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