Dozens of Ohio Schools Change Gun Policies to Defend Students

by Jason Hart

Dozens of school districts across Ohio made some allowance for handguns on campus in the year following the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut, a recent Buckeye Firearms Foundation (BFF) survey found.

"There are at least 20 different school districts in Ohio that have authorized individuals such as teachers, administrators and parents to carry firearms in schools," BFF President Jim Irvine wrote on December 11.

"The list includes rural, urban and suburban schools. It includes public, private and parochial schools. It covers small, medium and large schools and all grade levels,” Irvine explained. "In short, it is a cross section of Ohio, and the United States of America."

"Some of these districts took quick action and had authorized people carrying soon after the Sandy Hook killings," Irvine wrote. "Others waited until the start of the current school year."

"Many are considering expanding their program to include more people as they realize there is great upside potential and almost no downside issues with authorizing good people to carry the tools necessary to stop an active killer," he added.

Just one week ago, an armed sheriff's deputy on a Colorado high school campus prevented a student armed with firebombs and a shotgun from committing mass murder.

"Since the [December 11] story has been published on our web site, I have become aware of several more districts that have authorized people to carry," Irvine told Media Trackers.

"This week I had a Superintendent (in a district that has authorized carry) tell me, 'I know several districts around me that have authorized people to carry. They didn't require any additional training, their people just have a CHL [concealed handgun license],'" Irvine said.

"I'm sure that is happening in other areas, but I don't know how common it is."

"In talking with another Buckeye person who has done a lot of work with school boards, I commented that I thought there were at least 30 districts that have armed," Irvine continued. "He replied, 'Easily.'"

Irvine noted, "I tend to be ridiculously conservative in my numbers, and while I would be surprised if there were 50 districts now, it would not shock me."

He suggested that if there is another mass school shooting, the number of Ohio districts allowing staff to carry firearms could easily exceed 100 by the end of 2014.

Early in 2013, BFF conducted an Armed Teacher Training Program to help those interested better equip themselves to defend the children in their communities. The course was offered free to attendees, with all expenses paid by BFF donors.

"We will pay for additional classes in 2014," Irvine said when asked whether there were plans to continue what BFF now describes as Faculty/Administrator Safety Training and Emergency Response (FASTER).

"We are still working on answering the 'how many?' question, trying to match supply of classes to the actual demand. We are still getting new interest."

"Because we have not seen another mass killing this year, there is less demand. We are thankful for that," Irvine said, "But we also know that when there is another mass school killing, demand will skyrocket."

Irvine explained that new interest for FASTER has come in two forms: from districts who have already sent employees for training and now want BFF "to train teachers and other people to better cover the buildings they are in, and to cover additional schools in their district," and from school officials who "have heard positive things and are now reaching out to get some training for their people."

"There is comfort in numbers," Irvine said. "While I understand that most schools didn't want to be the first in the state to have armed security, it will be far worse for the districts that are among the last to have armed security."

"Districts understand that too."

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