This week, State Rep. Thomas Hall (R-Madison Twp.) gave sponsor testimony on House Bill 99 in the Ohio Senate. After passing in the House back in November 2021, the bill that focuses on school safety proceeded with its first hearing over in the Senate Veterans and Public Safety Committee.
“At the end of the day, what we are talking about here is empowering our local schools to make the best decision for their students and educators so that our children feel safe and are safe in Ohio schools,” Hall said. “We have worked tirelessly on this bill to do our part in protecting our schools and our communities.”
The legislation allows schools to choose whether teachers may be armed within a school safety zone to protect students and colleagues. Other components of the bill include:
- At minimum, a school employee must complete concealed carry weapon (CCW) training in order to carry a firearm on school premises, as well as 20 initial hours of training and 4 re-occurring hours of training. This training will be set forth by the Attorney General’s office;
- Staff members must undergo and meet certain range requirements. These requirements must be met by staff prior to being able to carry; and
- The bill requires that if a school board decides to allow staff to carry, the board must notify the public by whatever means that they normally communicate with the public for transparency purposes.
During his testimony, Hall noted his personal ties to the issue as his father (who attended the committee hearing alongside Hall’s mother) served as Madison High School’s school resource officer when it experienced a school shooting. In reaction to the shooting, the school district permitted certain teachers and staff in the school to be armed for protection purposes – this policy found its way to the Ohio Supreme Court.
The court found that based off of the ambiguous way the Ohio Revised Code is written on this matter, requirements for armed staff members is over 750 hours of Ohio Peace Officer Training.
“750-plus hours is not a realistic or practical requirement for full time staff to complete in order to simply keep our students and educators safe,” Hall added. “I am here to help clarify a gray area of law that will give schools the tools to protect their students if they wish to utilize them.”
House Bill 99 now awaits a second committee hearing in the Senate.