More teachers and staff in Ohio will be permitted to carry firearms on school premises after state Gov. Mike DeWine (R-OH) signed a bill into law Monday that reduced gun training requirements in the name of school safety.
The new law comes amid a renewed focus on school safety following the deaths of 19 elementary school students and two teachers at the hands of an armed teenager at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, last month.
"Our goal continues to be help our schools, public schools, parochial schools, private schools, to have the tools they need to help protect our children," DeWine said at a press conference Monday.
The measure passed the Republican-controlled state legislature earlier this year and will allow teachers and staff who voluntarily undergo at least 24 hours of training to carry firearms on school grounds.
DeWine signed the new gun measure the same day a law allowing so-called "permitless carry" went into effect. That law, which DeWine signed in March, allows any Ohio citizen aged 21 and older to carry a firearm in public without undergoing training or obtaining a concealed carry permit.
Proposals to arm teachers, popular with Republicans and gun rights activists, have faced stiff opposition from teachers unions, which have repeatedly lobbied for tighter gun control legislation. State law enforcement groups such as the Ohio Fraternal Order of Police also opposed the legislation.
In the days after the Uvalde shooting, Randi Weingarten, the president of the American Federation of Teachers, blasted the renewed attention the idea was receiving, saying, "The answer to gun violence is not 'more guns.'"
Likewise, Becky Pringle, the president of the National Education Association, the nation's largest teachers union, said efforts to arm school officials were counterproductive.
"Bringing more guns into schools makes schools more dangerous and does nothing to shield our students and educators from gun violence. We need fewer guns in schools, not more. Teachers should be teaching, not acting as armed security guards," Pringle said at the time.
Arming teachers was among many recommendations made by a pair of school safety commissions formed in the wake of several school shootings in 2018, including one at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Over a dozen states, including Florida and Texas, allow the practice in some capacity.