Governor Mike DeWine signed House Bill 99 on June 13, easing firearms training requirements for individuals who are permitted by their school districts to carry firearms on school grounds.
Under the new legislation, to be eligible to carry firearms on school grounds, individuals must either 1) have completed a training program yet to be established by the state, 2) have received a certificate of completion for an approved basic peace officer training program, or 3) be a law enforcement officer.
Individuals meeting these criteria must obtain written authorization from the school’s board of education or governing body. After granting permission to carry a firearm, the school board or governing body must provide public notice that it is authorizing firearms to be carried within a school it operates. Anyone given permission to carry a firearm on school grounds will be subjected to an annual criminal records check and must complete annual requalification training, but will not be identified publicly.
The Ohio School Safety Center (OSSC), created by HB 99, will develop the new training and requalification programs. The state’s training program must not exceed 24 hours, and its annual requalification program must not exceed 8 hours. But school boards or other governing bodies may require additional training. Additionally, school districts may use alternative training curricula approved by the state.
DeWine said that the decision to permit firearms will be “a local choice, not mandated by the legislature nor by the government.”
HB 99 will take effect on September 11, 2022.
The legislation’s critics complain that its “not to exceed 24 hours” language fails to establish a minimum hours requirement for the training curriculum. DeWine indicated that, under his direction, the OSSC will require 24-hour training plans and 8-hour requalification programs.
HB 99 passed in response to a 2021 Ohio Supreme Court decision holding that, under then-current law, a school employee must have 700 hours of training or have 20 years of law enforcement experience in order to carry a firearm on school grounds.
The Ohio Legislature passed the bill 8 days after the school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, which took the lives of 19 students and 2 teachers.
At least 17 other states allow teachers to carry firearms with permission from school authorities, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
If you would like more information about the rules and liabilities surrounding firearms in school, reach out to a Critchfield attorney.