HomeBudget & Tax NewsOhio Teachers Can Carry Guns with 24 Hours of Training (Commentary)

Ohio Teachers Can Carry Guns with 24 Hours of Training (Commentary)

Ohio is making it easier for teachers and school employees to carry weapons.

The state says in a new law that teachers need only 24 hours of training—not 700—in order to carry a gun in a school setting. Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine signed this change into law on Monday.

Seven hundred hours of training certainly seems excessive. Surely, whatever needs to be covered in terms of gun safety should be able to be taught in a much shorter amount of time.

But should teachers be allowed to be armed in the first place? Some argue that it will help stop school shootings. It’s “probably the most important thing we have done to prevent a school shooter in Ohio,” said state Sen. Niraj Antani (R–Dayton) on the Senate floor.

Others may suggest that teachers don’t lose their Second Amendment rights when they go to work. Of course, many workplaces prohibit firearms on premises without anyone considering it a big affront to the Second Amendment.

And many teachers are agents of the state, charged with watching the children of families that may have little choice but to send them to the local public school. That shades the situation a little differently.

Are teachers with guns just exercising their rights and protecting their students? Or does this amount to stationing ample armed guards at sites of public education?

One can imagine many scenarios where armed teachers could backfire. For one thing, more guns in schools make it much more likely that a student could somehow get hold of one. And while most teachers who carry will surely do so responsibly, there could always be outliers, who use their weapons to intimidate or threaten unruly students—or worse.

At a hearing on the bill, retired Columbus, Ohio, police commander Robert Meader said it would “cause harmful accidents and potentially even needless deaths.”

Of course, Ohio has allowed teachers to carry guns for years, and it’s led to little incident.

Previous rules required that teachers could carry if a local school board approved it (and under the new law, school boards will still have to consent to teachers and staff in their district having guns.) How much training they needed to do so kicked off a debate that made it to the state Supreme Court.

In 2021, the Court said “that state law required them to first undergo the same basic peace officer training as law enforcement officials or security officers who carry firearms on campus—entailing more than 700 hours of instruction,” notes The New York Times. “That ruling, Mr. DeWine said on Monday, had made it largely impractical for Ohio school districts to allow staff members to carry firearms.”

And Ohio is far from alone in letting teachers be armed.

“Twenty-eight states allow people other than security personnel to carry firearms on school grounds, with laws in nine of those states explicitly mentioning school employees,” the Times points out.

But the idea is unpopular among educators. “Nearly three-quarters of U.S. school teachers oppose the idea of training certain teachers and staff to carry guns in school buildings,” and “nearly six in 10 teachers think it would make schools less safe,” reported Gallup in 2018.

Ohio’s change has once again kicked off a nationwide debate over educators with guns—plus a slew of misleading headlines about what’s actually taking place. For instance, The Washington Post says “Ohio will arm more teachers,” making it sound like armed teachers will be mandatory.

Ultimately, Ohio probably has the right idea: leaving it up to individual school districts.

The new law “does not require any school to arm teachers or staff,” DeWine said on Monday. “Every school will make its own decision.”

Originally published by the Reason Foundation. Republished with permission.

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Elizabeth Nolan
Elizabeth Nolan
Elizabeth Nolan Brown is a senior editor at Reason.


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