(COLUMBUS, Ohio) — Teachers in Ohio are frustrated after lawmakers passed a bill Wednesday that would allow them and other school staff to carry guns in school safety zones, with little training.
The bill overrules an Ohio Supreme Court decision from last year that required teachers to receive gun training equivalent to the training police officers receive. If signed into law by the governor, it would create a minimum training commitment of 24 hours for teachers who voluntarily choose to carry guns in schools.
“I think that the idea to arm teachers is a way for lawmakers to pass the buck on much bigger issues,” Tate Moore, a seventh-grade English teacher in Ohio, told ABC News.
Moore said he is worried about the “unintended consequences” of teachers carrying guns in schools, saying something bad could happen.
“It seems like more things are getting added to our plate. And nothing is being taken off,” Moore said. “I’m just not sure how much more teachers can take.”
Moore said it is not a teacher’s job to stop a school shooter.
“I have yet to find one teacher who thinks it’s a good idea for teachers to carry firearms,” he said.
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine said he will sign the bill into law, with his office telling ABC News he had been working for several weeks to get this bill passed.
Ohio police go through over 700 hours of police training. A representative for the governor’s office said more than 600 hours of that training is related to policing and would not be appropriate for teachers.
“My office worked with the General Assembly to remove hundreds of hours of curriculum irrelevant to school safety and to ensure training requirements were specific to a school environment and contained significant scenario-based training,” DeWine said in a statement to ABC News.
Another Ohio teacher said the bill is scary to her.
“I love to teach and, to me, that is my primary job. So to have this layer added to it is quite terrifying,” Lauren Alberti, a sixth-grade teacher, told ABC News.
Alberti said she is worried this bill would deter people from going into education and result in more teacher shortages, a crisis felt in schools across the U.S.
Alberti also said she is concerned about it becoming teachers’ responsibility to shoot a gunman and worries what would happen to teachers if they were to shoot and miss.
“If you really want to eradicate the issue, I don’t think that fighting fire with fire is the answer,” Alberti said.
She later added that she would feel “on edge all the time” if there were guns in her school. She said other teachers she’s spoken with have also told her they are not comfortable with what this bill allows.
Alberti said it would be better to work on the root problems that cause shootings, like working on mental health programs and anti-bullying campaigns or even increasing the number of security guards.
Asked about teachers’ criticism of the proposed rule, Joe Eaton, the program director of pro-gun group FASTER saves lives, told ABC News this bill is important to allow teachers to protect themselves in schools.
“If they’re already in the school buildings, they are in danger so they deserve the right to protect themselves and the students they’re responsible for, right now,” Eaton said. He also said it is a voluntary program and there is no requirement for schools to implement it.
Eaton said teachers and staff willingly put themselves between shooters and students to protect them, saying “we owe it to them” to allow them to defend themselves. He also said the cost of bringing in school police officers is high and it may not be a good solution for schools with large campuses.
Eaton also pushed back on claims this could fuel teacher shortages saying, there is “no indication that that could ever happen.”
Sara DeMuch, a volunteer with the Ohio chapter of gun control group Moms Demand Action, told ABC News she is “continuously disappointed” in Ohio legislators for repeatedly making decisions that “put students and teachers at risk.”
“We have done enough. And it is time for us to get back to just being students and teachers and do what we do in schools. And it’s time for our politicians to step up and tackle the problems that are going on,” DeMuch said.
DeMuch said there is no data or research that supports arming teachers in schools and called on legislators to stop putting extra work on teachers.
“It’s unrealistic, it’s dangerous, it’s irresponsible. And I think the way that they fast-tracked this bill is reprehensible,” DeMuch said.
“As an Ohio public school teacher, I’m afraid, going forward, for our schools, I’m afraid for our students, I’m afraid for other teachers,” DeMuch added.
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