Editorial: Permit teachers to be trained and armed if they wish

A recent editorial by the Youngstown Vindicator:

Each time a shooting occurs in one of this nation’s school buildings, renewed public cries demand increased gun control imposing new limits on Americans’ rights to purchase and own weapons.

“Government will protect us, if only we had more gun-control laws,” many will argue.

But Gov. Mike DeWine said it well last week when he signed Ohio House Bill 99 into law.

“School safety is everyone’s responsibility — not just the responsibility of our schools or government or parents,” the governor stated. “Keeping our kids safe and secure when the bell rings is something we all must work together to achieve.”

That’s why we support provisions of the House bill that many others will oppose or find controversial.

House Bill 99, which takes effect in 90 days, will grant local boards of education the authority to decide whether to allow their teachers and school workers to carry firearms into school buildings. Local school boards must require at least 24 hours of training from school employees before they can carry.

“This is a local choice, not mandated by the state,” DeWine said. “Each school board will determine what is best for their students, their staff and their community.”

We are even more pleased that the new law keeps control of this issue at the local level.

In the most recent tragic school shooting, we know that a gunman holed up in a Uvalde, Texas, classroom for more than an hour as terrified children called 9-1-1 begging for help. During that time armed officers remained outside.

Sadly, the killer had demonstrated violent behavior before entering the school and even shared hints and information online beforehand. Tragically, those clues were not followed up on.

There also was an apparent breakdown of any attempts to fortify the Uvalde school because an exit door had been propped open, allowing the killer to enter unimpeded.

Now, let us be clear. In no way are we stating that armed teachers should be the first line of defense.

Undeniably, security in our school buildings always should be paramount.

All exits always should be locked from the outside and alarmed. Metal detectors should scan all who enter. We find ways to smoothly screen passengers boarding airplanes and crowds entering concerts and sporting events, yet we avoid similar efforts to protect the lives of those who are most precious?

Likewise, a few years ago we opined that arming trained teachers would be an option worth considering.

We know that idea is controversial and many will oppose us, but we maintain that belief, provided that the school employees are comfortable with the idea and that they have received adequate training.

We know many are calling for stronger gun laws. But let’s be realistic — even if stronger gun laws were to be enacted, that wouldn’t remove existing guns from people’s homes.

And aren’t most schools already designated “gun-free zones?”

When clues are there, but they are ignored; and gun background check laws already exist, but often aren’t followed; or guns already legally banned from schools still make it inside, why do we think that newer, stricter gun laws are going to protect our kids any better?

Have our strict drug laws halted drug use in our nation, after all?

Let us remind you of this: There were armed uniformed officers outside the school in Uvalde.

If teachers or administrators wish to be trained and carry a weapon, we believe they should have that opportunity.

Why impose limits when it comes to keeping our children safe?

— Youngstown Vindicator, June 19