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Gun Safety Advocates, Sen. Hearcel Craig, Ohio Chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-Ohio) Criticize Decision to Fast-Track Reckless Arming-Teachers Bill

July 20, 2020

Ohio Lawmakers Announced Friday Their Intention to Fast-Track Bill to Dramatically Reduce Training Requirements for Teachers Who Carry Firearms in Schools – Bill Could get a Vote as Soon as Tuesday 

Bill Would also Permit the Continued Use of Buckeye Firearms’ Racist, Islamophobic FASTER Training Program

Recording of today’s press call is available HERE.

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Everytown for Gun Safety, Ohio Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action, both a part of Everytown’s volunteer networks, today held a press call with Senator Hearcel Craig (D-Columbus), ranking member of the Ohio State Senate Government Oversight and Reform Committee, and the Council on American-Islamic Relations’s Ohio chapter to denounce SB317, a bill that would allow teachers to carry guns in schools without extensive training. 

Ohio law currently requires teachers to complete peace officer training in order to carry a gun in schools; SB317 would exempt teachers from this significant requirement. The Ohio Senate Government Oversight and Reform Committee is holding a hearing and expected to vote to advance the bill Tuesday. The bill could head to the Senate floor for a vote as early as Tuesday afternoon. 

In March, the Ohio 12th District Court of Appeals ordered the Madison Local School District to halt a program allowing teachers to carry hidden, loaded weapons in classrooms with minimal training, finding that arming public school teachers with only 24 hours of training is illegal under state law. Everytown Law serves as co-counsel for the Ohio parent-plaintiffs in that case. SB317’s stated goal is to return Ohio to the status quo before the appeals court ruling, in which many school districts simply ignored the training mandate in current Ohio law and opted instead for perfunctory private training such as the state-funded FASTER program run by the Buckeye Firearms Foundation, which contains racist, Islamophobic content. An example of such content is available here.

“Senate Bill 317 does not meet the expectations of the ‘do something’ battle cry that Governor Mike DeWine was met with after the Dayton shooting,” said Senator Hearcel Craig (D-Columbus), ranking member of the Ohio State Senate Government Oversight and Reform Committee. “No child in Ohio should have to worry if there is a gun at school or if the person with the gun has had proper training.”

“Allowing school staff to carry firearms in schools is dangerous. Allowing this to happen without extensive and ongoing training is irresponsible,” said Susie Lane, a public school teacher and volunteer with the Ohio chapter of Moms Demand Action. “Arming teachers is opposed by school safety experts, parents, and students, and the majority of teachers because it doesn’t make children safer; it makes us all less safe.”

“SB317 is a dangerous piece of legislation that opens the door to private training with no oversight. FASTER is a prime example of what lack of oversight can lead to,” said Amina Barhumi, Outreach Director, Ohio Chapter of Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-Ohio). “FASTER has trafficked in gratuitous racial and religious stereotyping that is likely to create a toxic and dangerous environment for Muslim students including increased racial profiling, racially motivated disciplinary action, and even death. SB 317 will not make schools in Ohio safer.”

“This isn’t about politics – it’s about protecting students, and the only thing worse than our teachers carrying guns with insufficient training is a teacher who is explicitly trained to target Muslim students like myself,” said Zack Maaieh, a senior at Ottawa Hills High School and volunteer with Students Demand Action in Toledo. “When I return to school this fall, I should be worried about college applications, not whether myself and my peers could be the target of a poorly trained teacher with a gun on their hip.”

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