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Teachers unions, FOP against Ohio bill that would allow educators to carry gun at school

The Fraternal Order of Police and nearly every teacher's union in the state have refused to support House Bill 99.

COLUMBUS, Ohio — All that would be required under a proposed bill to allow adults in school to carry a gun is 24 hours of firearms training.

By comparison, a police officer gets no less than 60 hours.

The Fraternal Order of Police and nearly every teacher's union in the state have refused to support it.

"It's a bad idea, but if you are going to go down this path, please don't rush it, " said Scott DiMauro, the president of the Ohio Education Association.

But supporters argue the bill will give school children a fighting chance at life, especially in rural areas that may not have a school resource officer and where police response may not be as fast as in urban areas.

"I believe in giving our kids a fighting chance when the police aren't in the room yet and seconds are going by. I'd rather have the chance that someone will protect them than to be sitting ducks," said Rob Sexton of the Buckeye Firearms Association, a pro-gun lobby.

Carrying a gun in school was allowed in Ohio until the Ohio Supreme Court struck it down in 2016. Parents in Madison Local School District sued saying teachers needed extensive peace officer training.

Under House Bill 99, anyone working in a school who wants to carry a firearm only needs a minimum of 24 hours of fire training even though a district could require more.

"Arming teachers while shooters have automatic weapons and body armor is not the answer," said Shari Obrenski, president of the Cleveland Teachers Union. She says she found it ironic that lawmakers who don't trust teachers in the classroom to teach kids now want to arm them.

"We aren't trusted with the books we choose but somehow, we are supposed to be trusted with a gun in school?"

In 2021, the Ohio Supreme Court ruled that school personnel who want to carry firearms would need extensive police training or 20 years of experience.

Chief Justice Maureen O'Connor cited a state law banning schools from employing security guards or "other position in which such person goes armed while on duty” without peace officer training or experience. 

The bill passed the Senate Committee Monday night. It will be heard by the House rules and reference committee Wednesday morning.

It's unclear whether Gov. Mike DeWine would sign or veto the bill if it makes it to his desk.

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