SB 317 would allow adults with minimal or no safety training to carry loaded guns in Ohio schools. Please write immediately to Sen. Bill Coley to express your views on this bill.
Under current Ohio law, all armed school employees must either complete an approved basic peace officer course (728 hours) or have completed 20 years of active duty as a peace officer. This bill would allow school districts to employ armed personnel with as little as eight hours of concealed carry training, or no training at all if the firearms are not concealed. Among the dangers of this bill:
• Introducing more guns in school increases the risk of gun violence in the school
• Even highly trained law enforcement report their ability to shoot accurately decreases significantly when engaged in gunfights with perpetrators
• Arming teachers imposes new liability, and can raise premiums or endanger coverage
You can read more and find links to relevant research data here: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1iTlvv3gZbVT30K_sTbp7h1Gm7UEzvGu9/view
Senator Bill Coley is a sponsor of the bill and Chair of the Government Oversight and Reform Committee. Here is a link to a form you can use to write to him, and then find your own State Senator’s contact information. Sen. Coley represents Ohio’s 4th District, in Butler County.
As an example, here’s the letter I wrote:
Dear Senator Coley,
I realize you are a sponsor of SB 317, but as a grandparent of two elementary school students in an Ohio school (Forest Hills, Anderson Township), I am begging you to stop hearings on it. As the leader who had to develop active shooter plans for my parish church in Wyoming, Ohio two years ago, I attended a briefing by the police chief who explained how extremely difficult it is to shoot accurately when the target is moving, even if a person is a trained police officer.
This bill poses unacceptable risks to children and school staff. They could be struck by shots intended for the perpetrator. A school staff member who feels threatened and who reacts from a fright or flight impulse could shoot a student during a tense moment. As a leader in the anti-racism work of the Episcopal Diocese of Southern Ohio, I’m asking you to pay attention to data on the disproportionate rate at which Black students are treated as severe discipline problems in U.S. schools. This suggests the most likely victims would be students of color.
SB 317 is terrifying to many of my Black friends with children or grandchildren in Ohio schools. I can’t imagine that any parent would want a person with only eight hours of training to serve as school nurse. Current Ohio law requires extensive peace officer training for armed staff in schools. Don’t change that. Please, please, drop this bill and focus on ideas that will truly increase the safety of our children and school staff. Thank you. I ask God to bless and guide you in your important work.
Ariel Miller, Cincinnati, OH
Submitted by Ariel Miller, a member of Ascension and Holy Trinity, Wyoming, and a member of the Becoming Beloved Community leadership team in the Diocese of Southern Ohio.