SB 317, allowing schools to arm teachers without safety training, was passed by Ohio Senate committee Sept. 1. Here’s how to advocate:

Despite the fact that 250 citizens submitted testimony against the bill and only three testified in favor (sponsor Senator Bill Coley, the National Rifle Association, and the Buckeye Firearms Association), the House Government Oversight and Reform Committee approved the bill on a 6-3 vote Sept. 1.

The bill summary: SB 317 “Expressly exempts, from a requirement that peace officer basic training be obtained, certain employees that a board of education or governing body of a school authorizes to go armed in a school safety zone within which the board or governing body has authority.”  Current law requires that people carrying weapons in a school safety zone must have approved basic peace officer training (over 900 hours) or 20 years active duty as a peace officer.

Ohio Senate Majority Leader Larry Obhoff is the person who will decide whether to bring the bill to the Senate House for a vote. You can reach him to express your views at https://ohiosenate.gov/senators/obhof/contact

Here is the nonpartisan Legislative Services Committee analysis of the bill in the version passed by the Committee:  https://www.legislature.ohio.gov/download?key=14419&format=pdf 

The Senate, surprisingly, has not yet scheduled a vote on the bill, perhaps because of the tremendous concern expressed by the public, including several Episcopalians. Many of us testified about the added danger that children – particularly children of color – could be shot by mistake or in fear by an untrained adult. Introducing more firearms into a school also increases the risk of children picking up an unsecured firearm.

Ariel Miller of Ascension & Holy Trinity, Wyoming, is a social justice advocate and a member of the diocesan Becoming Beloved Community Leadership Team.