Ohio has been making headlines recently for passing a number of controversial Conservative bills. But one particular bill that passed this week has people even on the right side of the aisle raising their eyebrows - and wondering what the legislature is thinking.
Ohio Governor Mike DeWine signed the bill into law Monday that permits teachers to carry a gun after training that "shall not exceed" 24 hours. Critics immediately slammed it as dangerous - but advocates say it's just a way to give schools options to protect their students.
The Ohio Bill That Has People Crying Foul
First, it's important to look at the details of the new bill.
NPR reports, "The new law dramatically reduces the amount of training a teacher must undergo before they can carry a gun in a school safety zone. Instead of more than 700 hours of training that's currently required, school staff who want to be armed would get training that 'shall not exceed' 24 hours, House Bill 99 states.
'DeWine, who had campaigned for gun restrictions after the mass shooting in Dayton in 2019, said signing this bill is part of an overall plan to harden school security,' according to the Statehouse News Bureau."
But the bill stands on shaky legal precedent. It mirrors a policy passed in 2018 by a school district in Madison Township, Ohio. The goal was to make it easier for staff to carry weapons, and parents sued, saying the staff should have peace officer training before being allowed to carry guns on campus.
Ultimately, the Ohio Supreme Court sided with parents. So it's odd to see a similar fast-route bill becoming state law, and critics are already planning challenges.
The bill may be timely, but it's been debated in the legislature for about a year; 360 people spoke against it and only 20 people spoke in favor. DeWine says it's simply a way to give teachers "options."
Reaction to the Bill Has Been Swift
However, critics have slammed the bill as reckless, irresponsible, and "insane."
The former mayor of Dayton Ohio, Nan Whaley, said, "Teachers will need 180 hours to renew their teaching license so they can teach your kids, but only up to 24 hours of training to carry a gun around with them. That is insane."
The Ohio Federation of Teachers and Ohio Education Association both urged the governor to veto the bill, calling it "dangerous and irresponsible" to put guns in the hands of teachers who won't be adequately trained.
Moms Demand Action and the Fraternal Order of Police of Ohio also spoke against the bill, with the latter saying that by arming teachers it's changing their duty. It would require teachers to go into response mode, abandon their students, and respond to the threat.
Studies on the effectiveness of arming teachers are mostly inconclusive, and DeWine has defended the bill by saying that no school is required to arm their teachers - they simply now have the option to do so, if they choose to.
One Celebrity is On the Trail for Change
While Ohio becomes a battleground over arming teachers, one celebrity is taking to the trail to push common sense gun legislation.
Actor Matthew McConaughey is a native of Uvalde, Texas, and was rocked especially hard by the school shooting which left 21 dead - 19 of those children.
Since that tragedy, McConaughey has been using his fame and his platform for good, pushing federal legislators and Texas politicians to consider an approach to gun safety that takes science and safety into account.
The actor recently took to the White House to share his message, offering a brief biography of each victim of the Uvalde shooting. McConaughey acknowledged the Second Amendment right to bear arms, but adds that it doesn't preclude the chance for common sense gun reform.
Sky News reports, "This included, he said, more background checks, limiting the sale of certain high-powered weapons, introducing so-called 'red flag' laws that highlight people with mental health or extremist issues attempting to buy guns, and raising the minimum aged to purchase AR-15s like the one 18-year-old Ramos used, to 21 years.
'These are reasonable, practical, tactical regulations,' he said. 'These regulations are not a step back, they are a step forward for a civil society and for the Second Amendment.'"
McConaughey acknowledges that the laws won't stop mass shootings, but it's better than nothing and may be the first step towards making a difference. He added, "Is this a cure all? Hell no, but people are hurting."
The actor explained per Sky News, "They all said we want responsible gun laws that won't make it so easy for the bad guys to get these damn guns." Concluding that lawmakers have to come together and stop fighting to be popular, but do what's right instead; "Maybe set an example for our children, give us reason to tell them...these are great American leaders right here I hope you grow up to be like them. We can't truly be leaders if we are only living for re-election."
The Ohio bill seems like a step in the wrong direction, and Ohio teachers and gun safety experts will be swiftly fighting to overturn it - but for now, teachers in Ohio can become gun holders much more easily than they can become teachers.