State FOP proposes stripping ability of boards of education to arm school employees
by Chad D. Baus
If there was any doubt left for Ohioans that the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) is an anti-gun rights, anti-Second Amendment organization that cares more about protecting the jobs of its members than it does the very safety of our school children, it should be removed after they hear news that the FOP is pushing to strip the right of Boards of Education to arm staff to protect students.
From Gongwer News Service, in an article about House Bill 8, a place-holder bill that will eventually be amended to contain language intended to enhance school safety in the wake of the latest mass murder in a "no-guns" zone:
Mike Weinman, director of government affairs for the FOP of Ohio, said he is concerned the aim of the bill is to further arm teachers and school staff.
"That's one thing that we feel should be left up to school resource officers or those police officers trained able to confront an armed individual," he said. "It's really a safety issue. Even some of the most experienced, best-trained officers don't hit the target under stress as often as they should, so you can just image what would happen in a school setting with inexperienced, undertrained teachers or janitors or whoever."
The FOP also wants the existing language that allows boards to "willy-nilly allow somebody to carry a gun" changed, adding he expects there could be liability issues for boards.
"When that was originally put into law, it was one of those unforeseen consequences of something that the firearms lobby was asking for because they were complaining about people going to pick up their kids," he said. "They're concealed carry permit holders and they can't go pick up their kids because now they're not authorized. So that was kind of like a compromise, I guess.
"Now it's being used to arm teachers and janitors and lunch ladies.... If you're going to work security in school, you have to meet certain criteria, but if you're just armed in a school you don't have to."
[UPDATE: Weinman is just plain wrong about the genesis of allowing armed teachers into school. This section of law was not added in response to the firearms lobby to help people who wanted to pick up/drop off kids at school. That problem was addressed in SB184, Ohio's Castle Doctrine law. The language addressing giving boards of education the ability to authorize concealed carry in the school was in the original concealed carry law (HB12, passed in 2004), when CHLs were still forbidden from picking up or dropping off kids. In fact, the whole Ohio school safety zone law didn't exist until HB12, and that provision of HB12 was written by anti-gun forces in the Senate (among them the FOP).]
The facts about these school and church massacres are simple. FOP members don't make it to the scene until the shooting is done. That's because, according to extensive research by law enforcement consultant-trainer Ron Borsch, on average, it takes six minutes for officers to respond, and the average mass killing lasts...you guessed it - six minutes. Many boards of education want to reduce that the killing time on what Borsch calls the "Stop Watch of Death," so that a trained, armed staffer can respond and stop the killing while it still in progress.
But that doesn't seem to matter to Mike Weinman, who appears more concerned about preserving the helpless dependence of citizens on his officers than he does the safety of school children. Think that statement is over the top? Consider this:
[Weinman] said he has also spoken with Rep. Roegner about including funding for school resource officers in the measure. The sponsor said although she is open to the idea, funding likely won't appear in the first substitute bill draft.
"Our belief is, that's the most effective way of dealing with this is the school resource officers," Mr. Weinman said. "Not only are they there for protection and security, but they also kind of fall into a role like a guidance counselor, and that sort of thing. They can make that connection between the police forces and the students in the schools."
I rest my case. Mike Weinman is placing his desire to increase membership in the FOP above any concern about the safety of school children.
According to the article, Mr. Weinman pointed out that SROs are in uniform, carry a sidearm and generally have cruisers on site.
Weinman should be asked if he thinks these mass killers, many of whom do extensive research when planning out their heinous crimes, are too stupid to wait to stage their attack until the uniformed SRO is on vacation, on maternity leave, or out to lunch, as was the case at Columbine High School.
Indeed, that is just what happened to one Ohio SRO, who was on leave last December when Sandy Hook attack occurred, and who has vowed to never let himself slip into denial again. From a letter he sent to the Ohio School Resource Officer's Association, and also shared with me:
As the only officer in my school district, when I went on paternity leave in early November my school was left entirely unprotected as the events in Connecticut unfolded. Sandy Hook shocked my community into demanding out of the box ideas to keep our kids safe. While the easy approach would be to insist that only highly trained resource officers are capable of stopping an attacker, I know this isn't what is best for my students. Like the Armed Pilot Program established by the FAA to protect airplanes, we need to invest in developing a program to equip the trained and willing staff members of the district to help us protect our schools.
...The number of deadly school violence incidents in the United States has consistently exceeded the number of deadly hijacking events. A program similar to that created for airline pilots has even more value for school safety. Armed pilots are not expected to supersede the role of Federal Air Marshals. They are simply prepared to serve in a secondary role to preserve the safety of the flying public. In the same way, an appropriate program to arm school staff would serve in a secondary or support role to a school resource officer.
In a small community such as ours, funding is already stretched to the limit and both the police department and the school district are dealing with pay freezes and reduced revenue streams. Increased fortification of facilities would be a nice concept but it is financially unrealistic. Hiring more officers would be ideal, but neither the department nor the school district can afford to do so. The only real solution is developing a program to safely and responsibly provide school staff with the means to protect themselves.
In the last few weeks I have participated in a series of collaborative meetings between my department, my school district and our legal teams to establish a program that makes this a reality. Our goal is to explore and eventually implement a step by step process to select, train, and equip school staff to assist me in effectively responding to an active killer in our buildings.
Our plan begins with volunteer staff members who have already completed the Ohio training requirements to carry a concealed weapon. These employees have demonstrated a willingness to obtain training and skills on their own time and at their own expense.
Not only is the FOP lobbyist out of touch with SROs like this one, he is also out of touch with rank and file officers, as is demonstrated by a recently-released survey of 15,000 police officers conducted by PoliceOne.com:
These results strongly show that law enforcement officers do not support President Obama's gun control agenda. They do, however, strongly support the Right-to-Carry by law-abiding Americans. The survey respondents are united in their desire for politicians to focus on keeping firearms out of the hands of the mentally ill and to reject unconstitutional gun control measures that infringe on Second Amendment rights.
"The American people, and particularly the members of law enforcement, want politicians in Washington to stop pursuing a failed political agenda and get to work fixing our broken mental health system, improving school security, and getting criminals off the streets," said the executive director of NRA's Institute for Legislative Action, Chris W. Cox.
The following are some key findings:
- 99 percent said policies other than an "assault weapons" ban are most important to prevent mass shootings.
- Almost 96 percent said that a ban on standard capacity magazines would not reduce violent crime.
- More than 91 percent stated that the use of a firearm in the commission of a crime should have stiff, mandatory sentences, and no plea-bargains.
- More than 91 percent stated they supported the Right-to-Carry by law-abiding Americans.
- More than 81 percent said that "gun buy-backs" do not reduce gun violence.
- 80 percent believe legally armed citizens can reduce casualties in incidents of mass violence.
- Nearly 80 percent said that a ban on private transfers of firearms between law-abiding citizens would not reduce violent crime.
- More than 76 percent indicated that legally armed citizens are important to reducing crime.
- More than 76 percent support the arming of trained and qualified teachers or administrators who volunteer to carry a firearm.
- More than 70 percent said that a ban on "assault weapons" would not reduce violent crime.
- More than 70 percent opposed the idea of a national registry of legal gun sales.
- Nearly 68 percent said magazine capacity restrictions would negatively affect them personally.
- More than 60 percent said that the passage of Obama's gun control legislation would not improve officer safety.
Meanwhile, the Gongwer article reveals that in addition to fighting to take away the right of this community's board of education from taking steps which have the full support of the local SRO, the state FOP is also advocating for the exact types of things that law-enforcement officers overwhelmingly agree will do nothing to reduce crime, including a "universal background check" gun registration scheme for anyone purchasing a firearm, and "the creation of a program that alerts sheriffs whenever a concealed carry permit holder commits a disqualifying offense."
The fact that Weinman is focused on law-abiding concealed handgun license-holders and law-abiding gun owners betrays that fact that his extremist anti-Second Amendment views are clouding his judgement. Does Weinman honestly believe the criminals the officers he represents face every day are going to submit themselves to a background check? Furthermore, why does Weinman trust a background check process that is severely flawed as it stands, given the fact that so any mental health records aren't contained in the system?
The FOP lobbyists have been wrong in their predictions about every single piece of legislation they testified about that has been which has become law in the past decade, and legislators should have absolutely no reservation about ignoring them as they craft House Bill 8.
In its opposition to SB239 (Restaurant & Carry Carry Rules Fix), the FOP's lobbyist claimed it would allow licensees to drive around "twirling" guns on their finger, allow the use of "quick draw" holsters that are a danger to police and require those going to restaurants to have "designated shooters." He also testified that police officers, but not the general public, should be allowed to drink in restaurants and/or while consuming because they are "better trained," "better decision makers," and have received weapons retention training. He failed to give evidence that police officers are trained on how to carry while consuming alcohol (Hint: That's because they're not.)
The FOP opposed HB12 (Ohio Concealed Carry) as well as SB184 (Castle Doctrine), offering similar warnings that have never come to pass.
Most recently, the Ohio FOP opposed HB495. Judging by his testimony, the FOP lobbyist seems to believe that all law-abiding gun owners are cop-killers in waiting. He objected to a provision fixing the definition of a "loaded" gun in a motor vehicle by suggesting that this change would give an advantage to someone who intends to shoot an approaching officer (as though such a criminal really cares how the law defines a "loaded" gun in the first place!).
Unfortunately for Weinman, but fortunately for the state's school children, even the Ohio School Boards Association opposes the removal of local control.
"Any time a school district is dealing with school safety, we always encourage them to have conversations with their community members, with local law enforcement so it really is a local decision between the school board, the school administrators, parents, community members, local law enforcement," OSBA spokeswoman Michelle Francis is quoted as saying.
[UPDATE: Mike Weinman would do well to remember that, as Buckeye Firearms Association Legislative Chair Ken Hanson points out, "We the People grant law enforcement their limited power and authority, not vice versa. Law enforcement is granted their authority and power over citizens by we, the people. We are perfectly within our rights to curtail that authority as we see fit, and it is not up to them to second guess that decision. Their powers come from us; our rights do not come from them."]
The next time the FOP fundraiser calls you asking for a donation, I hope you will remember that they will use those funds to fight against the arming of school employees for the protection of Ohio children. And I hope you will take it upon yourself to call or email your state representative today and ask them to ignore the FOP's sickening suggestions as voiced by professional paid lobbyist Mike Weinman.
Chad D. Baus is the Buckeye Firearms Association Vice Chairman.