Many teachers throughout Ohio have pushed back as state lawmakers took steps to add more guns to school campuses.
And now that a new law is in effect permitting teachers to be armed with little training or planning, a local school district is saying no way.
The Cincinnati Public Schools Board of Education passed a resolution during its June 13 meeting slamming Ohio HB 99 and prohibiting educators from carrying firearms. The resolution specifically calls out legislators for passing the law in spite of opposition from teacher organizations like the Ohio Federation of Teachers and the Ohio Education Association.
"This new law continues the State Legislature's efforts to expand the use of guns by school personnel in Ohio schools, while at the same time reducing required gun safety training for school personnel," the resolution reads in part. "Notwithstanding the lack of support and the increased risk to children and school personnel, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine has signed HB 99 into law."
The resolution also notes that the CPS board is using its permitted "local school board discretion" in prohibiting armed teachers throughout the district and that only actual law enforcement personnel will be allowed to carry guns.
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine signed the armed-teacher bill into law on June 13, with the CPS board passing its resolution that evening. The bill grants boards of education authority to decide whether to allow their teachers and other school workers to carry guns. It also says that school boards must require just 24 hours of training (with room for fewer) from teachers before they can carry; locally, schools could mandate more training, but it's not required.
The CPS Resolution prohibiting teachers from packing heat has passed.— Mike Moroski (@mike_moroski) June 14, 2022
In spite of @GovMikeDeWine and the @ohiogop’s unserious, irresponsible, and dangerous HB99, teachers will *not* be allowed to carry guns in CPS schools.
Prior to this, teachers were required to complete 700 hours of peace officer training before they could be armed on campus. The new reduced required training hours are a drastic change that has educators and many parents seething.
Because the decision to require teachers to be armed is left to local school boards, Ohio residents could find different outcomes throughout their nearby districts, with one district banning armed educators and another permitting the extra firearms on campus despite the reduction in training hours.
The bill was introduced in February of 2021 and was finally passed this week in the wake of multiple mass shootings, including the deadly Ulvalde, Texas, shooting at an elementary school. The bill is a Republican effort, and only three House Republicans and one Senate Republican opposed it. Democrats in both chambers unanimously voted against the bill, saying that more guns on campus were not the answer.
Teachers – still overwhelmed with increased workloads due to COVID-19 changes as well as stagnant pay – have overwhelmingly denounced HB 99. They're against it particularly in schools with large populations of non-white students who have had negative interactions with authorities, are concerned about being able to safely store the guns and are concerned about potential for even more violence on campus.
In recent weeks, Cincinnati mayor Aftab Pureval has been denouncing state and federal lawmakers for their inaction at attempting to control the nation's increasing gun violence problem. He and mayors of other large cities throughout the United States say that state leaders – particularly in Republican-controlled states like Ohio – prevent even modest gun-control or violence-reduction proposals from going to a vote or even getting discussion while actively passing measures that solidify access to weapons.
"We're doing everything we can at the local level, partnering with the Department of Justice, ATF (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives), and the FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation) with our local law enforcement to prevent the importation of illegal guns," Pureval tells Steve Inskeep, host of NPR's Morning Edition, in an interview released June 7. "But the fact of the matter is there are now more guns than people in our country, and it's creating an arms race where people don't feel safe unless they have a gun. So guns beget more guns, which unfortunately makes us all unsafe."
"We are not powerless to do anything about gun violence," Pureval continues. "But when we're talking specifically gun control, local leaders are preempted by their state houses or by the federal government and really don't have very many tools to manage the accessibility of guns."
DeWine has repeatedly supported protections for firearms owners.
But research by the New York Times shows that a number of mass shootings could have been prevented or caused fewer deaths and injuries had better laws and background checks been in place in states and federally.
On the federal level, Democrats and Republican Senators have been discussing how to control access to weapons – or at least to better understand who is buying them – but Republicans have indicated they’re not interested in raising the age at which someone can buy a firearm. Currently, 18-year-olds can legally purchase “long guns” like rifles, while they must wait until age 21 to buy handguns. But many rules go out the window when it comes to purchases at gun shows or from family. A bi-partisan group of legislators has developed the initial framework for a bill that eventually may close some questionable gun-purchase practices.
“Gun murders, in particular, have climbed sharply in recent years,” a recent Pew Research Center national report says. “The 19,384 gun murders that took place in 2020 were the most since at least 1968, exceeding the previous peak of 18,253 recorded by the CDC in 1993. The 2020 total represented a 34% increase from the year before, a 49% increase over five years and a 75% increase over 10 years.”
In Ohio, nearly 1,800 residents died via firearms in 2021 – almost as many as in 2020, the state's reigning record year.
Ohio HB 99 goes into effect in less than 90 days.