Proposed law would allow Ohio teachers to carry guns in schools with 20 hours of training

By: - April 4, 2022 3:40 am

(Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

The following article was originally published on and is published in the Ohio Capital Journal under a content-sharing agreement. Unlike other OCJ articles, it is not available for free republication by other news outlets as it is owned by WEWS in Cleveland.


A controversial new gun law in the Ohio Senate is causing law enforcement officers and educators to beg their lawmakers to think. House Bill 99 would make it significantly easier for adults in schools to carry guns, loosening the regulations by about 95%.

After a school shooting in 2016, a district in Southwest Ohio decided to allow some of their teachers to be armed. Madison Junior/Senior High School parents sued and the Ohio Supreme Court sided with them, saying state law says teachers must have extensive peace officer training (Peace Officer Basic Training Academy that is approved by the Ohio Peace Officer Training Commission, or OPOTC) or 20 years of experience as a peace officer.

The 2016 shooting occurred in Madison Township, the same district that HB 99 sponsor represents. His new bill would challenge that 2021 Gabbard v. Madison Local School Dist. Bd. of Edn ruling.

“The number of mass shootings in schools is absolutely alarming,” Scott DiMauro, president of the Ohio Education Association (OEA), said.

Ohioans have experienced 38 school shootings since 2013, according to advocacy group Everytown for Gun Safety.

In comes HB 99. It exempts a “person authorized to go armed within a school safety zone” from the current requirement that a public or private educational institution employee who goes armed while on duty must satisfactorily complete an approved basic peace officer training program.

The Republican-proposed legislation has its fans, like Buckeye Firearm Association’s Rob Sexton.

“The one thing we know is this: the faster the active killer is confronted, the more lives are saved,” Sexton said. “It’s our hope that the Legislature would pass House Bill 99 and restore some sanity to school safety.”

Under the bill, teachers, janitors, cafeteria staff and basically anyone who isn’t a student could carry a gun with a certain amount of training.

“I think, really, really disturbing,” DiMauro added. “It’s disturbingly little.”

Someone would only be required to complete 20 hours of training, plus an additional eight to get a conceal carry permit.

“It’s a whole, just a ridiculous array of police training when instead what we really need is a fast deterrent that can step in and save lives in the event of a tragedy,” Sexton said.

It also has restrictions. An individual may not spend more than two hours training with the firearm. News 5 reached out to bill sponsor Rep. Thomas Hall (R-Madison Twp.) on why, but he was unavailable to speak Friday afternoon.

For context, police get 60 hours of firearm training, with 46 of those hours being at a gun range. School resource officers get the same as police, but an additional 40 hours of training both inside and at the range. Previously, armed teachers would have to become peace officers with more than 700 hours on average of educational courses and firearm training.

“How can you possibly expect somebody who has only 20 hours of training, including only two hours of hands-on training with a weapon, to be able to perform in a way that protects everybody’s safety in their crisis?” DiMauro asked. “When Mike DeWine was attorney general of the State of Ohio, this same body set a standard of approximately 150 hours for training. That seems to be much more reasonable given the high stakes that are involved when you’re talking about the lives of students and staff in our schools.”

With the reduced amount of training, the bill has garnered opponents such as DiMauro and the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) of Ohio’s Michael Weinman.

“We don’t think that the training hours are adequate for what they’re going to be doing in their schools,” Weinman said. “[It’s] carrying a firearm and discharge a firearm in possibly a crowded room or a cafeteria, being able to retain that weapon if the students could want to take away that weapon from them.”

The pair say the bill is very broad and since it doesn’t even list a requirement of how the gun should be stored safely during school, they are worried about accidental discharges, students taking a hold of the gun and fear caused to kids.

“These teachers, they have a different mindset, right?” the retired Columbus police officer said. “We’re there to take care of threats and make sure the schools are safe, which isn’t necessarily what they’re trained for.”

They definitely aren’t trained for that, according to DiMauro.

“The last thing we need is to be asking educators to do things that are really outside the core of their responsibility, which is ensuring students’ academic success and making sure that we’re providing those foundational supports in terms of social-emotional needs so that they can be successful academically,” the educator said. “There are so many pressures facing educators in our schools today.”

According to a study done by OEA and their national affiliate, 90% of educators across the country were feeling burnt out, and 55% of educators were considering leaving the profession earlier than planned, either through retirement or by choosing another job, DiMauro added.

“This isn’t just exclusive to teachers, and so they’re not going to have even those basic training that a teacher gets in how to control classroom discipline,” Weinman said. “It’s very concerning for us that they’re going to have these armed individuals in these schools.”

DiMauro and Weinman asked why not just continue using school resource officers?

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Morgan Trau
Morgan Trau

Morgan Trau is a political reporter and multimedia journalist based out of the WEWS Columbus Bureau. A graduate of Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications, Trau has previously worked as an investigative, political and fact-checking reporter in Grand Rapids, Mich. at WZZM-TV; a reporter and MMJ in Spokane, Wash. at KREM-TV and has interned at 60 Minutes and worked for CBS Interactive and PBS NewsHour.