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Ohio’s high court will hear guns in schools argument

Allowing public school teachers to carry or have access to firearms while on the job is a tough topic.

Armed educators can save lives if schools are invaded by people bent on violence, say proponents of the idea. Which, sadly, has happened multiple times in our country. Critics worry about gun accidents and “friendly-fire” mistakes by teachers who may not be thoroughly trained in handling firearms, as most law enforcement officers are. There are those too who are just plain against guns, period.

Not everyone agrees regarding training, however. Ohio Supreme Court justices have been asked to settle a case on the matter.

Madison public schools in Butler County, north of Cincinnati, has a policy allowing some teachers and other staff members to be armed while at work. It was put in place after a 2016 school shooting in which a student wounded four classmates.

One requirement is that armed school employees must have 26 hours of firearms training. That is not enough, argued a group of parents who filed a lawsuit over the matter. They want armed teachers and other staff members to undergo the 728 hours of training mandated for law enforcement personnel.

About a year ago, a common pleas court judge ruled against the parents. He noted teachers are not full-time law enforcement officers and do not require the full 728-hour course.

Later, however, an appeals court overruled the judge, siding with the parents. School district officials are appealing that decision to the state’s highest court. Among other things, they argue that law enforcement training costs $7,265 and requires 18 weeks to complete. That could make it practically impossible to provide armed school personnel as a safety backstop, the district contends.

Let us hope the high court takes the logical position that this question should not be an all-or-nothing affair. Clearly, armed educators do not require full law enforcement training. But is 26 hours enough?

Because the question will be addressed by the state’s highest court, it will have implications throughout Ohio.

State Supreme Court justices, in consultation with experts, should mandate that enough training — whatever that may be — is provided to ensure armed teachers and other school staff members provide protection, not a new hazard, to students.

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