Ohio teachers can now be armed in school with just 24 hours of training

Ohio’s Republican Governor Mike DeWine has signed a measure into law that allows teachers and school staff to bring firearms to school after a maximum of 24 hours of training, cutting down an earlier requirement of more than 700 hours.

House Bill 99 reverses a 2021 decision from the state’s Supreme Court, which ruled that armed school workers should first be required to undergo similar firearm training as law enforcement officers and security that carry weapon on campuses, in addition to local school board approval.

Under the law signed by the governor on 13 June, local school boards still would need to approve whether a teacher or school employee could carry a firearm, but the training period was reduced to no more than 24 hours.

“Each school board will determine what’s best for their students, their staff and their community,” the governor said on Monday.

The law was signed the same day the state’s new so-called “constitutional carry” measure goes into effect, allowing residents aged 21 and older who are otherwise legally allowed to own a gun to carry a concealed weapon without a permit or training.

The state is among nearly 30 that allow employees on school campuses other than security officers to carry firearms, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Ohio’s latest measure follows nationwide calls from Republican officials to strengthen school security – including arming teachers – while they oppose measures to curb the proliferation of high-powered weapons in the wake of mass killings of schoolchildren, including the massacre of 19 fourth-grade students at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas last month.

Cleveland Mayor Justin Bibb said the city would prohibit teachers and other school staff other than security from carrying firearms on campuses, and a former senior Ohio law enforcement official warned that the new training requirement would likely lead to “harmful accidents and potentially even needless deaths.”

The legislation has faced widespread opposition from gun control advocates, teachers unions, Ohio’s Fraternal Order of Police and Democratic legislators; state Rep Juanita Brent told legislators that the bill “is not what the people asked for.”

“We aren’t trusted with the books we choose, but somehow we’re supposed to be trusted with a gun in school?” said Shari Obrenski, vice president of the Ohio Federation of Teachers, speaking to state legislators during debate last month.

In a joint statement earlier this month, the union and Ohio Education Association said “putting more guns into school buildings in the hands of people who have woefully inadequate training – regardless of their intentions – is dangerous and irresponsible.”