Politics

Ohio governor signs bill making it easier for teachers to have guns in schools

Dareh Gregorian
WATCH LIVE
Republican Gubernatorial Candidate Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine stands on stage with one of his grandchildren after making a late pitch to supporters during a campaign event at the Boat House at Confluence Park on November 2, 2018 in Columbus, Ohio.
Kirk Irwin | Getty Images

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine said Monday that he has signed a bill into law that makes it much easier for teachers to legally carry guns in schools.

The measure drastically reduces the amount of training teachers and other staff are required to undergo before they can possess a firearm on school grounds. Instead of 700 hours of training, teachers will be able to finish in less than 24 hours.

"Our goal is to continue to help our public and private schools get the tools they need to protect our children," DeWine said. "We have an obligation to do everything we can every single day to try and protect our kids."

DeWine, a Republican, said in a statement on June 1 that the bill would allow "local school districts, if they so chose, to designate armed staff for school security and safety," adding that it was more practical than the state's previous standard.

"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," he said.

The new law, which comes just weeks after the massacre at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, calls for eight hours of prequalification training every year, as well as training on stopping an active shooter, de-escalation techniques and first aid care.

The measure was opposed by teachers' unions, the state's Fraternal Order of Police and gun safety groups.

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"The safety of Ohio's students and educators is our utmost priority, but we know putting more guns into school buildings in the hands of people who have woefully inadequate training — regardless of their intentions — is dangerous and irresponsible," Scott DiMauro, president of the Ohio Education Association, and Melissa Cropper, president of the Ohio Federation of Teachers, said in a joint statement June 3.

Former Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley, the Democratic gubernatorial nominee trying to unseat DeWine, said the new law makes "our communities less safe" and predicted "voters will remember his callousness in November and vote him out of office."

The bill's sponsor, state GOP Rep. Thomas Hall, has said response challenges in Ohio's rural areas was one of the reasons he believed the law was necessary.

"I use the example of rural schools versus urban schools. Urban schools, they have school resource officers, they have a police force that can be there within 2 minutes, 3 minutes. Some of these schools are not as fortunate," he said.

2020 Rand Corp. study found at least 28 states, including Texas, allow teachers or school staff to be armed in the classroom under varying conditions.