With guns, that is, not intellectual freedom.       

Ohio House Bill 99 seeks to put firearms in the hands of under-trained individuals and put those individuals in schools across the state of Ohio. Technically the bill doesn’t say “firearms”, but instead “authorize the person to convey or possess deadly weapons or dangerous ordnance into a school safety zone

Deadly weapons and school safety – oxymoronic, no?

To say that the individuals would be under-trained is a dramatic understatement. Under the bill, initial training “must not exceed” 20 hours. It literally puts a cap on the amount of training. Spelled out, the breakdown is “18 hours of general training and two hours of handgun training”. Neither set of training is to exceed those respective time frames. 

Mike Weinman, director of government affairs for the Fraternal Order of Police of Ohio summed it up nicely when he provided opposition testimony on the bill in April:

“Under the bill, each school board sets the training and qualification standards with the State’s eight-hour concealed carry requirement as a minimum. Only two of those eight hours are spent on the firing range and you do not have to demonstrate proficiency.” 

Unlike our 3rd grade students…<eyeroll>  

Weinman continued, “Police officers receive 60 hours of training associated with firearms, 46 of those hours on the range. This does not account for the hundreds of training hours to avoid using what officers have learned on the firing range. Through these hours of training and requalification training, officers are taught to suppress the physiological changes that occur during high-stress, traumatic events. Unfortunately, shooting accuracy still falls off. Teachers and school staff will not receive this training level.  Included in officer training is weapons retention. Officers are taught that going into any situation; you are bringing in a gun that can be used against you. Officers are trained to fight to keep that weapon.”

As we have already seen across the country, even well-trained, experienced officers are not immune to firing their weapons in situations that don’t merit it – what is an untrained teacher going to do when they are simultaneously trying to herd their students to safety, locate the handgun (is she really wearing it on her hip or in a shoulder-holster during reading circle?), and then locate the threat, possibly ending with that teacher killing a student.

Already in Columbus and around the country there have been fierce debates about having armed officers in school buildings – how will our students react when they show up to school and their teachers are packing heat?

Melissa Cropper, President of the Ohio Federation of Teachers, shared more irony when she also provided opposition testimony in early November: “It is ironic that at the same time many legislators are seeking to micromanage curriculum and reading assignments, there is also the effort to pass HB 99. Educators are being told we are not trusted to decide what to teach in the classroom, a job we study for and are licensed to do, but we are trusted to have loaded guns around children with minimal training.

Please stop and listen to the educators and parents who have grave concerns about this legislation. We all want to keep our kids safe in school. Rather than passing a one-sided bill and opening the floodgates to allow more and more guns in school, each of which can be deadly if it gets into the wrong hands, you have an opportunity to bring people together and find consensus around improving school safety. Please take that opportunity.”

If you are a teacher, you already know how much this resonates in terms of the lack of autonomy and number of mandates and requirements imposed from above. If you aren’t a teacher, ask one you know and I’m sure they will be willing to share. 😉

As an added note, schools will be funding this, not the state. As usual…

Unfortunately, HB99 has already passed the House on nearly a straight party-line vote (Republican Gayle Manning, an ex-teacher, was the only Republican to vote no), and has moved on to the Ohio Senate where a massive Republican majority holds sway. 

If more guns made us safer, then America would be the safest place on earth, and I, for one, don’t believe that weaponizing our teachers and loading up our schools with guns leads us down that path.

I would urge you to contact your state senator and express your disapproval of this bill, telling them that you do not want legislation that’s sole purpose is to put guns in our schools.

Please contact your state senator here: https://www.ohiosenate.gov/senators