Attorney General Mike DeWine denies backing away from comments made in support of arming school employees

by Chad D. Baus and Jim Irvine

This week, an Associated Press article by Julie Carr Smyth, entitled "Ohio's state school board urged not to arm teachers," hit the wires and shot around the state and across the country.

The article is making waves because, according to Carr Smyth, Attorney General Mike DeWine made comments at a State Board of Education meeting that go against his previously-expressed support for arming employees in school buildings to stop an armed killer inside a building.

Other officials are quoted painting a picture of unified opposition to armed persons in our schools, both in the original AP article, and also in a follow-up article published by the Columbus Dispatch, entitled "State public-safety chief rejects arming teachers."

After investigating the assertions and quotes presented in these articles, we can report that the truth is a far different story.

Perhaps the true goal of these articles was exposed in Joe Vardon's opening sentence in the Dispatch story, when he suggested that the quotes contained in the articles might succeed in "...blunting any momentum behind proposals to arm teachers." Many school boards are already moving ahead with armed protection, and it seems some are desperate to derail this progress.

Consider again the AP headline, "Ohio's state school board urged not to arm teachers," and consider also how DeWine's comments are being spun by liberal Ohio blog site "Plunderbund" in it's coverage of this article: "DeWine changes his mind on arming teachers."

But is either headline correctly describing DeWine's comments?

Not according to DeWine's office, and not according to a comparison of his comments on Tuesday to those made last December immediately following the attack on Sandy Hook Elementary.

From the original AP article, dated Tuesday, May 14:

In the wake of emotional public debate, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine told the board Tuesday that he tries to remind the public that schools are still among the safest places children can be -- compared statistically to, say, riding in a car. He urged the school board to arm educators with information -- not firearms.

"This is up to the local schools, but I would never, if I was on a school board, have anybody who is untrained with a gun in that school," he said.

DeWine said training required to obtain an Ohio concealed-carry permit is not enough.

"That's not the kind of training I'm talking about," he said. "I would want someone who had been in the military or who has been a police officer or who has taken some extensive courses, that's beyond a 12-hour course."

Already, we see that Carr Smyth's depiction of DeWine "urging" the school board to "arm educators with information -- not firearms" is contradicted by the quote she then provides.

First, according to her own article, DeWine reiterated to the Board that this is a local decision. Second, he told the Board that he supports having armed, well-trained personnel in the school building.

So how does that compare to comments made in December, when DeWine first publicly expressed support for arming school staff?

From the Columbus Dispatch, dated Wednesday, December 19, 2012:

Attorney General Mike DeWine said today that Ohio schools should consider arming at least one staffer in their building in case of a shooting.

Stressing that it was a local decision, DeWine said, "If I was on a school board ... I would seriously consider having someone in that school, who may be an ex-police officer, someone who has significant training, someone who had access to a gun in school.

This is almost verbatim from the comments Carr Smyth provides in her May AP article. This is a local decision, and he supports the idea of having armed, well-trained personnel inside the school building.

The position he just expressed in May is the same as the one he took back in December. Nothing has changed.

And yet we have Carr Smyth characterizing DeWine as "urg[ing] the school board to arm educators with information -- not firearms," and we have headlines claiming that DeWine has reversed his position.

And so, as we have in the past, when news reports about a public official seem to run counter to what we know about their support for citizens' Second Amendment rights, we called DeWine's office to inquire about the accuracy of the AP article.

DeWine's office reiterated that the attorney general has never said schools should require police or military training. And that's a good thing, because the OPOTA-required "police" training on active killers - both initial and recurrent - is ZERO!

Also according to DeWine's office, after his speech, the Attorney General was questioned further about training and expressed his opinion that it should be significant training - more than just a CHL. (for example, like the Buckeye Firearms Foundation has been offering for free at the Tactical Defense Institute).

Again, this is absolutely the same position DeWine took in December. The AP article claiming that DeWine "urged the school board to arm educators with information -- not firearms," is wrong, as is the Plunderbund headline claiming that "DeWine change[d] his mind on arming teachers."

After discovering how poor the reporting on DeWine's comments was, we decided it would be best to contact the other public officials who, according to this week's agenda-driven reporting, supposedly came out against arming teachers.

From the Columbus Dispatch:

Ohio Public Safety Director Tom Charles said he "would not give guns to teachers in school," possibly blunting any momentum behind proposals to arm teachers.

"We're making a gun too easily accessible," Charles told The Dispatch yesterday about arming teachers. He made similar statements in a comprehensive safety presentation on Tuesday to the Ohio Board of Education, a follow-up to a deadly shooting in 2012 at Chardon High School and the massacre in December in Newtown, Conn.

"Do we want teachers responding to fights with a gun?" Charles said. "I would not have guns in schools."

When asked about Director Charles' comments, ODPS Communications Director Joe Andrews said, "I was sitting right there. That is not what he actually said."

Andrews told us that what Director Charles actually said was (paraphrasing) "Anybody who carries a firearm in a school should have extensive training, similar to police or military. It should be something beyond a basic CHL." Charles is not saying that only police and military should be permitted to carry gun in a school. He is using them as reference that people are familiar with. As a lifetime law enforcement officer, he is simply referring to a personal example of his training.

And what about yet another public official quoted by the Dispatch? State School Board President Debe Terhar was quoted as saying "I think we need to make sure that we have fully trained professionals in there, and I would worry about doing anything different."

When contacted, Terhar said she agreed with A.G. DeWine's comments. She specifically emphasized the importance of local control and adequate training - "training that truly prepares people for these situations, including unexpected and stressful situations. My goal is to ensure a safe and secure learning environment for our children. We are working to find the best way to do that." That is the same goal of Buckeye Firearms Foundation, and why the training the Foundation is paying for does exactly what Terhar is requesting.

According to a Buckeye Firearms Association leader who works in law enforcement, "police training isn't very high. 40 hours in the academy. 1000-2000 rounds. Annual qualification shoots. Ohio qualification is now 25 rounds." And yet the Fraternal Order of Police likes to claim that their officers are the only ones who should be allowed to be in schools, because they've got annual qualification with a required half-box of ammo down range?

There are many citizens who voluntarily pay to attend classes where they fire 1000-2000 rounds once or twice a year. Others fire more rounds than that in their own personal training at home or a local firing range. Police are great, when they are there. But killers rarely strike in front of law enforcement. Concealed carry has helped protect many adults. Armed airline pilots help protect our nation's airlines, passengers and country. Armed teachers are willing and able to protect our school children. We just need to give them appropriate training, something Buckeye Firearms Foundation is continuing to do.

Those who are opposed to armed people inside the schools are quite vocal in their opposition to real security. They continue to spout off about what they claim isn't the answer, but they can't offer a viable alternative. They have no answer to stopping an armed killer inside a building. They just hate guns, and that is a poor reason leave our kids unprotected.

The current debate on arming teachers is exactly what we went through in Ohio prior to passage of our concealed carry law, and again during the fight to allow pilots carrying gun on airplanes. We are told we can't trust the People (Teachers, in this case). We are confronted with dozens of "what-if" straw men (What if a teacher has a bad day? What if there is unauthorized access? What if a teacher accidentally shoots a student? What if a police officer mistakes an armed teacher for an active killer?) It is predicted that blood will run in the streets (or classrooms, in this case). We are told only people trained to police standards can be trusted with a firearm. Etc. Etc. ad nauseum. There is not a lick of proof to back up their naive claims.

Both the armed pilots program and Ohio's concealed carry program are nearing 10 years of success. Our streets are safer. Our skies are safer. It's time we make our schools and our children safer.

Chad D. Baus is the Buckeye Firearms Association Vice Chairman. Jim Irvine is the Buckeye Firearms Association Chairman, the Buckeye Firearms Foundation President, and the recipient of the NRA-ILA's 2011 "Jay M. Littlefield Volunteer of the Year Award" and the CCRKBA's 2012 "Gun Rights Defender of the Year Award."

Help us fight for your rights!

Become a member of Buckeye Firearms Association and support our grassroots efforts to defend and advance YOUR RIGHTS!

Subscribe to our FREE Newsletter

Get weekly news and instant alerts on the latest laws and politics that affect your gun rights. Enjoy cutting-edge commentary. Be among the first to hear about gun raffles, firearms training, and special events. Read more.

We respect your privacy and your email address will be kept confidential.


Buckeye Firearms Association is a grassroots organization dedicated to defending and advancing the right of citizens to own and use firearms for all legal activities, including self-defense, hunting, competition, and recreation. Read more.