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Ohio Gov signs bill allowing schools to arm their staff

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The horrific school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, has generated calls for stricter gun control laws. Ohio Governor Mike DeWine has taken a different approach to the situation, specifically with regard to school-safety measures.

On Monday, June 13, the AP broke the news that DeWine had signed a bill into law permitting Ohio school districts to arm their employees. This could begin as early as the upcoming fall semester. The law requires 24 hours of training before an employee can be armed, then up to eight hours of annual training. The Ohio School Safety Center must approve all instruction programs. DeWine has confirmed he will order the organization to approve the maximum training hours.

Arming school personnel is just part of the governor’s proposal for safer schools. $100 million will be spent on security upgrades for K-12 schools, and $5 million will be spent to further secure colleges. Twenty-eight employees will be added to the safety centers to develop security policies and provide firearm training. The state is providing $1.2 billion for mental health and overall wellness.

Mike DeWine has stated that his preference is for schools to hire armed resource officers. The law was signed to give schools an option between these officers and arming themselves to protect children. The governor emphasized the aspect of this being an option, not a requirement.

Several others in the state would prefer this not to be an option. Many mayors of large Ohio cities, all Democrats, criticized the new law on Monday. They pointed out the failure of state Republicans to consider gun control proposals rather than allow educators to carry weapons into classrooms. These mayors are calling for measures including universal background checks, red flag laws, raising the age of purchase from 18 to 21, and outlawing assault rifles.

Toledo Mayor Wade Kapszukiewicz referred to these actions as “common sense.” He also pointed out that legislation supported by up to 95% of constituents will not be passed due to the Ohio state government. Former Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley criticized the governor for failing to keep his promise to address gun violence after a 2019 mass shooting in Dayton in which nine people died and more than two dozen were injured.

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