Governor DeWine Signs House Bill 99
On June 13, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine signed House Bill 99 (HB 99), which allows teachers and other school personnel to carry firearms in school safety zones. HB 99 was previously passed by the Ohio House in November 2021 with a 56-34 vote and, this June, by the Ohio Senate with a 23-9 vote.
Under HB 99, school districts choose whether to authorize armed school personnel in school safety zones. In other words, HB 99 provides school districts with the option to authorize armed school personnel but does not require school districts to do so. HB 99 requires school districts that choose to authorize armed school personnel to notify the public of this decision.
If a school district authorizes school personnel to carry firearms in school safety zones, armed individuals must undergo 24 hours of initial training and an additional eight hours of requalification training every year. HB 99 significantly reduces the amount of training required by school personnel to carry a firearm in school safety zones, which is currently more than 700 hours under Ohio law. While this is the minimum amount of training required by HB 99, local school boards may require more hours of training. HB 99 also requires all armed school personnel to undergo annual criminal background checks. In addition, HB 99 creates the Ohio Mobile Training Team, which consists of licensed regional peace officers and armed forces veterans to partner with local schools to improve school security services.
How are Communities Responding to HB 99?
While many people in Ohio believe that HB 99 is the natural solution to the school shooting epidemic in the United States, HB 99 has been highly controversial. Teacher unions, major law enforcement groups and gun control advocates have vehemently opposed HB 99. Additionally, several Ohio politicians, including Representative Lisa Sobecki, Representative Juanita Brent and gubernatorial candidate Nan Whaley, have denounced HB 99 as making our communities less safe. Cleveland mayor Justin Bibb has also spoken out against HB 99, discouraging the Cleveland Metropolitan School District from arming school personnel. In fact, the Columbus Board of Education has already announced that Columbus City Schools will not be arming school personnel.
We will continue to monitor whether local school districts throughout Ohio will exercise the option to arm school personnel.