Tuesday, June 14, 2022

Ohio decides arming teachers is the solution to mass shootings in schools; Ohio is very wrong

Yesterday, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine signed a new law that will lower the training hours school personnel to be armed from about 700 hours to a mere 24 hours — four for scenario-based training plus 20 for first-aid training, school-shooting history eduction, and reunification education.

This law is the worst possible idea to solve our gun violence and school shooting epidemic. Here are six reasons why.

1/ Arming teachers is widely unpopular. 73 percent of teachers and 63 of parents of school-age children opposing the idea. Also opposing it are the American Federation of Teachers, the National Education Association, the National Association of School Resource Officers, and the President and Executive Director of the Major Cities Chiefs Association. If this many people oppose the idea, why does Governor DeWine and the Ohio legislature think they know better?

2/ A mere 24 hours of training is woefully inadequate. Indeed, law enforcement officers receive an average of 840 hours of basic training before they even become police officers, including 168 hours of training on weapons, self-defense, and the use of force. These are trained law enforcement officers. Why do we think it's wise to arm teachers, whose job is very much not law enforcement, with 35 times less training?

3/ Arming teachers creates the risk that students will get their hands on guns in schools. Indeed, there are multiple incidents of students stealing guns from teachers or finding a teacher's misplaced gun. For the record, one such incident is one too many. 

4/ Introducing more guns into schools increases the risk of more shootings. Access to a firearm, irrespective of age, triples the risk of death by suicide and doubles the risk of death by homicide. There is no reason to believe these grim statistics won't carry over to schools after we arm teachers.

5/ I'd check those insurance coverages before permitting teachers to carry, no matter the law. If I'm an insurance carrier, I'm not covering incidents that involve a teachers's gun. If I'm a school district, I really need to know what my insurance coverages and legal protections are before I arm my school personnel.

6/ Even though OSHA doesn't have a specific standard on guns or gun violence, it does have a General Duty Clause, and you better believe that if a teacher injures an employee with a gun, OSHA will likely have something to say about it.

We know the answer to gun violence in schools — reasonable and sensible gun laws, plus increased funding and attention to mental health issues, plus systemic recognition that gun violence is a serious public health problem and treating it as such. Arming teaching is not the solution, and as a parent and a human it scares the heck out of me that Ohio thinks that it is.