On Thanksgiving Day of 2001, I shot a gun for the first and last time. I pulled the trigger and there was so much kick back that I almost fell over. That moment is when I truly understood the power of a gun, something that with a pull of a trigger, could end a life.
I also will never forget the day my daughter described an active shooting drill at school as fun. She was in early elementary school at the time and I was shocked. I didn’t want to scare her but I had to explain to her that it was a matter to take seriously.
To be clear, I’m not trying to take away the right to own a gun. I’m trying to bring awareness to the seriousness of gun ownership. And with that ownership comes responsibility, including keeping guns out of schools. We have an individual duty to store guns in a manner that prevents them from making their way onto school campuses, and collectively we have a responsibility to keep our school campuses safe from unnecessary harm. Our current policies and proposed policies are too loose – we need to do better to keep our children safe.
The Vox article "America’s unique gun violence problem, explained in 16 maps and charts" shows that America has six times as many firearm homicides as Canada, and nearly 16 times as many as Germany. It also points out that Americans make up less than 5% of the world’s population, yet they own roughly 45% of all the world’s privately held firearms.
Let’s give guns the respect they deserve and pass sensible laws that require owners to prove their capability of the great responsibility of owning a gun, not pass laws that make us all less safe. House Bill 99 is up for a vote in the Ohio Senate. This bill would allow teachers to carry loaded guns in Ohio elementary, middle and high schools without completing the safety training required by current Ohio law.
Under current state law, all armed school employees – including teachers, security guards, and special police – must either complete an approved basic peace officer training course or have completed 20 years of active duty as a peace officer. Basic peace officer training is regulated by the Ohio Peace Officer Training Commission and comprises approximately 728 hours of instruction. But HB 99 would exempt teachers from this requirement and allow school districts to employ armed personnel in schools with as little as eight hours of concealed carry training (six of which can be completed online).
This will not make our children safer.
In fact, according to Everytown for Gun Safety, arming teachers introduces new risks into schools. There have been numerous incidents where a gun has been discharged by staff on school grounds and incidents where guns carried into schools were misplaced or stolen and later found in the hands of students. Even highly trained law enforcement officers will tell you that their ability to shoot accurately decreases significantly when engaged in gunfights with perpetrators. I remember a former police officer who was running for the Lakota School Board explaining this during a candidacy forum a few years ago.
We need to speak up. Contact your state senators and ask them to oppose HB 99. It’s time for our leaders to have the moral courage to do the right thing to keep our children safe.
Jill Jonassen lives in Liberty Township with her husband and two children. Both of her children attend schools in the Lakota School district. She works as a Business Systems Analyst for a global marketing company. Jill is a strong advocate for diversity, equity, and inclusion in education.
This article originally appeared on Cincinnati Enquirer: Opinion: Arming teachers introduces new risks into schools