Ohio Republicans responded to last week’s elementary school massacre in Uvalde, Texas, with a bill that would make it easier for teachers to strap up. And many teachers and cops in the state hate the idea. Ideally, when you’re creating a policy meant to combat gun violence in schools, you hope for widespread buy-in from groups that will be responsible for acting on the policy in the event of a shooting: teachers and cops. That’s not the case in Ohio.
After a gunman armed with a semi-automatic rifle mowed down 19 kids and two teachers at Robb Elementary last week, conservatives proposed everything from prayer in schools to limiting the number of doors a school should have. In other words, anything but making it harder for would-be killers to get guns. That includes the Ohio bill that passed in the state Senate on Wednesday, which significantly reduces the amount of training a teacher needs to be authorized to carry a gun on campus.
If signed, the bill will overrule an opinion handed down by the Ohio Supreme Court last year requiring teachers to receive the same amount of training — at least 60 hours — police receive to be cleared to carry. The new law would require up to only 24 hours of similar training for teachers. And Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine, a Republican, is going to sign it.
“My office worked with the General Assembly to remove hundreds of hours of curriculum irrelevant to school safety and to ensure training requirements were specific to a school environment and contained significant scenario-based training,” he said in a statement to a local CBS affiliate Thursday, adding that he looks forward to signing the bill.
On Thursday, presidents of the top education worker unions in the state — the Ohio Education Alliance and the Ohio Federation of Teachers — issued a joint statement calling for DeWine to veto the bill.
“Our students need to be in safe learning environments where they can focus on getting a world-class education; they should not have to worry about what could happen with a gun in the hands of an undertrained individual in their classrooms with them,” the groups’ presidents wrote.
The Ohio Fraternal Order of Police opposes the law as well. When Ohio Republicans introduced a similar bill last year, the order’s director of government affairs, Mike Weinman, testified that the organization “strongly disagrees” with the law. Weinman reiterated the need for high-level training to effectively handle situations with guns. “Teachers and students will not receive this training level during an eight-hour concealed carry class or a weekend-long training class,” he said.
None of this will come as a surprise to people with common sense. It’s not a teacher’s job to combat gun violence, so many teachers in Ohio don’t want to do it. It is a police officer’s job to combat gun violence, and, knowing the difficulty of the job, they also don’t want teachers to do it, especially if they lack proper training.
But the GOP is more concerned with looking like they’re coming up with solutions to gun violence than presenting actual solutions to gun violence, which they and their base might not like. With Americans nationwide calling for lawmakers to do something about gun violence, House Bill 99 is Ohio Republicans’ attempt to check a box and keep moving. Even when there’s a widespread, justifiable belief this bill will do far more harm than good.