2 BFA-Supported Bills Pass: HB 99 for School Security and SB 156 for Knife Preemption - Both Headed to Governor

On Wednesday, June 1, 2022, the Ohio Senate passed House Bill 99 with a vote of 23-9. The House then passed the bill on concurrence 56-34. The bill now heads to the Governor's desk for his signature.

Also with much less fanfare or debate, the Ohio House passed Senate Bill 156 with a vote of 57-32 to give knives the same "preemption" protection currently enjoyed by firearms. This bill also heads to the Governor.

HB 99, along with SB 215 for permitless carry which passed recently, represent two of BFA's three top legislative priorities for this legislative session. The third is HB 325 / SB 185 to limit government power during emergencies and protect Second Amendment rights.

HB 99 reverses a bad decision by the Ohio Supreme Court, which called for police officer training totaling more than 700 hours for anyone carrying a firearm in schools as part of a security program. Previously, the general understanding of the law was that local school boards had control over their own security.

Indeed, that has been the opinion of Governor Mike DeWine, who in 2012, and again in 2013, expressed his opinion as attorney general that "Ohio law does not prevent a local school board from arming an employee, unless that employee's duties rise to the level that he/she would be considered "security personnel."

A lawsuit brought by the gun control organization Everytown for Gun Safety took aim at armed teachers in the Madison Local School District with the goal of eliminating all armed school staff in Ohio. The case went to the Ohio Supreme Court where Chief Justice Maureen O'Connor joined the three Democrat justices (Justice Jennifer Brunner, Justice Michael Donnelly, and Justice Melody Stewart) in a decision which found that Madison's security program violates state law.

Just yesterday during a contentious hearing, the Senate Veterans and Public Safety Committee amended HB 99 to include annual criminal background checks for those carrying firearms in schools and also amended it to incorporate Senate Bill 168, which creates a mobile training program funded by the State of Ohio.

Buckeye Firearms Association would have preferred the original version of the bill to give local school boards full control over their own security, however the amended bill that passed is a welcome antidote to the chaos and concern caused by the Bloomberg-backed Everytown lawsuit.

Many superintendents have been frantic about how their schools were turned into soft targets. Assuming the governor signs the bill, schools will have the ability to adjust to the new law and once again set up their security programs to include armed and trained employees on-site to respond to active killer situations like in Uvalde, Texas.

We would like to thank Representative Thomas Hall (R-Madison Twp.) who sponsored HB 99, as well as Veterans and Public Safety Committee Chair Senator Frank Hoagland (R-Mingo Junction), for their leadership in moving this bill.

We urge Governor DeWine to sign both HB 99 and SB 156 immediately.

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