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Ohio governor signs bill making it easier for teachers and school staff to carry guns

By Shawna Mizelle and Melissa Alonso, CNN

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine on Monday signed a bill into law that makes it easier for teachers and staff to carry guns on school premises.

The Republican-backed bill reduces the hours of training required for armed school personnel from 700 to 24, according to the legislation.

“Those 700 hours of training are intended to broadly train law enforcement,” DeWine, a Republican, said during a news briefing Monday, adding, “The vast majority of that training is not really relevant to a school safety, directly.”

DeWine said examples of unnecessary training included patrolling in a police cruiser, stopping a vehicle, investigating a traffic accident and operating a radar.

Lawmakers at both the federal and state levels have sought ways to protect against gun violence in the wake of mass shootings, especially recent high-profile ones at a Buffalo, New York, supermarket, a Texas elementary school and a Tulsa, Oklahoma, medical center.

House Bill 99 was first introduced in February of last year, but it quickly advanced through the GOP-controlled Ohio legislature at DeWine’s behest after the Uvalde, Texas, school shooting last month. The bill passed on a mostly party-line vote.

Teachers unions and education groups have condemned the new law.

“In the wake of the tragic school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, Ohio lawmakers are rushing to take action to address school safety concerns in our state. The Ohio Education Association and the Ohio Federation of Teachers want to be clear: House Bill 99 will make Ohio’s students less safe in their schools,” Scott DiMauro, president of the Ohio Education Association, and Melissa Cropper, president of the Ohio Federation of Teachers, said in a joint statement.

The legislation also been opposed by the Fraternal Order of Police of Ohio. In testimony to a state House committee last spring, Mike Weinman, the director of government affairs for the FOP, said teachers would not have sufficient training to use firearms.

The legislation does not require arming staff at schools but allows a choice, emphasized DeWine. “Now, if a district chooses to arm staff members, the bill mandates up to 24 hours … of school-specific training,” the governor said.

The training required includes four scenario-based hours as well as first aid, the history and pattern of school shootings, de-escalation techniques and crisis intervention.

The measure applies to school staff “not being employed as a special police officer or security officer” who are “authorized to go armed within a school safety zone,” the bill says.

DeWine said that individuals “authorized to carry guns in schools must have a criminal background check each year under the bill, and they’re required to take up to eight hours of re-qualification training.”

The bill’s signing comes on the same day that an Ohio law allowing residents to carry concealed handguns without licenses went into effect.

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CNN’s Hannah Sarisohn contributed to this report.

Article Topic Follows: CNN - US Politics

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