Introducer of gun training in schools bill thinks it will ‘protect lives’; state teachers unions disagree

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He said House Bill 99 achieves those goals and he looks forward to signing this “significant legislation.”

But two Ohio school presidents urged DeWine to veto the bill.

Scott DiMauro, president of the Ohio Education Association (OEA), and Melissa Cropper, president of the Ohio Federation of Teachers (OFT), issued a joint statement against House Bill 99: “In the wake of the tragic shooting in a school in Uvalde, Texas, Ohio lawmakers are racing to take action to address school safety issues in our state.

They said HB 99 will make Ohio students “less safe” in their schools.

“The safety of Ohio’s students and educators is our top priority, but we know that putting more guns in school buildings into the hands of people who are woefully inadequately trained – regardless of their intentions – is dangerous and irresponsible,” the statement said.

Hall, 26, introduced the bill on Feb. 9, 2021, and the past 17 months have been a “roller coaster of emotions” for him, he said.

It passed the House in November but was stalled by a Senate committee until the May 24 mass shooting in Uvalde, Texas, in which 19 elementary school students and two teachers were killed by a single armed man. The bill was approved late Wednesday night by the Senate by a vote of 23 to 9 after being revised 18 times.

The bill requires school staff to receive at least 24 hours of training, which is 700 less than police officers. Hall said some of the police training, like traffic checks, is not relevant in schools.

When asked why 24 hours was selected, Hall replied “there is no perfect number”, but it was “a great starting point”.

Hall said a shooting in the Madison school district in February 2016 “changed our community, changed our lives.” Her father, Kent Hall, a Butler County Sheriff’s Deputy, was at the school at the time of the shooting. It took him seven seconds to run from the office to the cafeteria, the scene of the shooting.

“Seconds absolutely matter,” Hall said.

The purpose of the bill is to “protect and improve school safety” and it is better to have “a good person with a gun stopping a bad person with a gun”, he said, repeating an oft-used quote.

The bill also creates the Ohio School Safety and Crisis Center within the state Department of Public Safety and earmarks $6 million this fiscal year and another $6 million next year for its operation. Through a mobile training team, the center would provide training to staff in school districts that approve more armed personnel.

Eventually, Hall would like to see two school resource officers in every school in the state.

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