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Ohio Moms Demand Action, Everytown Applaud Governor DeWine for Holistic Approach to School Safety, Creation of School Safety Center

August 22, 2019

COLUMBUS, Ohio – The Ohio chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, part of Everytown for Gun Safety, today released the following statement praising Gov. Dewine for creating the Ohio School Safety Center within the Ohio Homeland Security office. The Center will be a new state office dedicated to school safety, and is part of Gov. DeWine’s plan to address gun violence. Following the mass shooting in Dayton, Gov. Mike DeWine called on the Ohio legislature to pass legislation requiring background checks on all gun sales, with reasonable exceptions, as well as Extreme Risk legislation, also known as a Red Flag law. Both policies are critical components of a comprehensive plan to address school safety. 

“Gov. DeWine continues to show his commitment to gun violence prevention in the wake of a tragic mass shooting in our state,” said Kristi Woodworth, volunteer leader with the Ohio chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. “We’re grateful that the governor is looking to proven solutions on school safety. Too often, after tragedies like what we saw in Ohio, we see knee-jerk reactions to arm teachers — even though research has shown, and experts agree, that this only makes our children less safe. We’re thankful to see Gov. DeWine taking a holistic approach, and we look forward to seeing real action on school safety in Ohio.” 

Gov. DeWine announced that the Center would be responsible for training school personnel to identify and triage threats of violence in schools. Effective threat assessment programs are evidence-based and provide school personnel with tools to identify, evaluate and intervene when there are threats or when a student is in crisis.

Ohio allows school districts to vote to arm teachers, even though research indicates that arming teachers will make children less safe. More information about the risks of arming teachers, as well as proven strategies for improving school safety, is available in a report from Everytown, the American Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association.

The foundation of any comprehensive gun violence prevention plan should be background checks on all gun sales, so people cannot circumvent the system to get their hands on guns. Under current federal law, background checks are required only for gun sales by licensed firearm dealers. No background check is required for sales by unlicensed individuals, who can sell guns to strangers they meet online or at gun shows — with no background check, no questions asked. A report showed that in Ohio, in 2018 alone, there were as many as 127,524 ads — more ads than any other state — on offering guns for sale with no background check required. More information on background checks is available here

Red Flag laws, also known as Extreme Risk laws, allow immediate family members and law enforcement officers to act on warning signs by petitioning a court to temporarily remove guns from dangerous situations. 

Perpetrators of mass shootings and school shootings often display warning signs before committing violent acts. For example, students and teachers reported that the mass shooter in the February 2018 Parkland, Florida tragedy displayed threatening behavior. The shooter’s mother had contacted law enforcement on multiple occasions regarding his behavior, and he was known to possess firearms. However, without an Extreme Risk law on the books, law enforcement couldn’t intervene. In response to that tragedy, Florida passed its own Extreme Risk law.

Twelve states have enacted Red Flag laws since last year’s mass shooting in Parkland, Florida, and five of these new laws have been signed by Republican governors. In addition to the District of Columbia, 17 states have now enacted Red Flag laws.

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