COLUMBUS, Ohio — How much training is needed and when is it too much are two questions Ohio legislators are trying to get answered before they reach a consensus for personnel carrying weapons on school grounds — at a time when concerns about school shootings and remain at the forefront of many people's minds.
What You Need To Know
- House Bill 99 addresses requirements for school staff to carry firearms on school property
- Recommendations of 152 hours instead of eight hours, with the option to do more is on the table
- How teachers and other school employees will safely store weapons is big concern for some legislators
- Interested party meetings on HB 99 are being set up, while legislators plan for additional hearings
Legislators are trying to bring clarity to the issue of armed school personnel other than school resource officers, especially when it comes to training, including what training is needed.
In the latest round of hearings, those for and against House Bill 99 testified.
Proponents of the bill said it's important to give districts the chance to decide on their own what training is really needed beyond the eight hours of concealed carry weapons law.
While David Spicer supports the bill, and has worked with many school employees and trained them, he admitted the training he provides is much more than the minimum.
“We practice hallway movements, we practice so low person room clearing, we practice cornering,” he said. “Then, we also in our scenario training, we have, like I said, force on force where we have somebody playing a bad guy, and the teachers have to respond to it.”
For the Fraternal Order of Police of Ohio, they'd rather see districts take on trained school resource officers instead. That's because the hours of training they receive is greater than the training some districts may offer.
“Our consumer qualifications training officers are taught to suppress physiological changes that occur during high stress, traumatic events,” said Michael Weinman of the FOP of Ohio. “Unfortunately, shooting accuracy still falls off, teachers and school staff will never see this training level during an eight-hour concealed carry class or a weekend long training class.”
Rep. David Leland, D-Columbus, said the lack of training is a concern of his, too.
“With the law enforcement, because we say that without that kind of adequate training, no matter how well intentioned, the school personnel might be, they would actually cause more harm than good,” Leland said. “If they don't have sufficient training.”
Rep. Thomas Hall, R-Madison Township, sponsor of HB 99, sees things differently.
“What I've found in talking with all school districts all across Ohio, not just my district, is that school districts have a lot more training requirements than this minimum that we know we put in this bill,” Hall said.
Confident that districts may and will make their own decisions that are best for them, Hall said it's important to let districts keep the local control of determining how many hours beyond the minimum are needed. While he said he knows there are a number of people who are against the proposed eight-hour minimum training requirement, he's willing to sit down with those on both sides of the aisle to find a solution that can work for everyone.
Hall said, right now, there are about 212 districts out of more than 600 in the state who have implemented a safety plan, which includes training of some sort for authorized, armed employees. He said giving them clarity is what's important.
Still, some say, even when the training piece is hashed out, language about the storing of weapons to prevent potential accidents needs to be added in addition to having a requirement that districts notify parents of their safety plans and the arming of school employees.
Proponents of the bill who’ve worked with districts, like Joseph Eaton of the Buckeye Firearms Association, said he's not so keen on the idea.
“I have seen the majority of schools do this in public session,” he said. “Adopt the resolution, a resolution to allow the arming of staff, then to go into executive session, to have all of the details the who's, the what's, the why’s, how many as part of their safety and security plan and that works well for the majority of the schools.”
Although more hearings are in the works concerning HB 99, the goal is to come up with a bipartisan piece of legislation that’s clear and will keep everyone safe.