In the aftermath of the deadly Uvalde school shooting last month—where an 18-year-old gunman killed 21 people, 19 of which were children—a nationwide-cry for gun control has gripped US politics, but perhaps not directly in the ways people had hoped. In impeccably ironic timing, Ohio’s new gun laws, first presented in March 2022, came into effect this week and brought changes that would make it more accessible for school staff, including teachers and bus drivers, to carry guns in the state. This has been accomplished by cutting the required training hours from 700 to just 24.
The legislation, named House Bill 99, was signed into law by Republican Governor Mike DeWine and officially came into effect on Monday 13 June 2022. Those aged 21 and above would also no longer be required to carry a permit for their weapon or even complete the eight-hour course that educates you on carrying and concealing a gun under the bill. Basically, they’ve just made it even easier for people to get their hands on the weapon in question. The law has also dropped the need for such firearm carriers to inform police officers of their concealed weapon. However, they must divulge the same when asked.
According to The Guardian, DeWine’s statement after the bill passed earlier this month was as follows: “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 continued by thanking the state’s law body “for passing this bill to protect Ohio children and teachers.”
The governor went on to further elucidate that school districts still have jurisdiction over whether or not they permit or prohibit guns on their individual school grounds—making the decision ultimately theirs. While arming their staff will not be a requirement, all parents of children at the school must be notified if they wish to do so. School boards will also have the authority to mandate additional training hours beyond the new 24 hour rule state law, as reported by The Guardian.
It goes without saying that the move has received obvious backlash and criticism from politicians, police and teachers alike. Both The Ohio Federation of Teachers and Ohio Education Association pressed the Republican governor to veto the bill alongside the Fraternal Order of Police of Ohio—who previously argued that 24 hours is not enough training time, as noted by Insider. Past research has shown that there is simply very little evidence (if any) that suggests arming teachers has an effect on reducing fatality in school shootings or even the frequency of the shootings themselves at all.
The state’s Republican lawmakers have additionally stated that the bill was a “doing something” as a reaction to the recent Uvalde mass murder. However, as reported by The Guardian, Democratic politicians in Ohio have rejected these claims—stating that this is not the gun reform people wanted. “They’re not asking for no guns. They’re asking for background checks,” state representative Juanita Brent, a Democrat from Cleveland said upon the bill’s passing.