The Ohio House has passed a Republican-backed lawmaking bill requiring over 700 hours of peace officer training or 20 years of law enforcement experience for teachers and staff who wish be armed in schools. The bill passed by a majority partisan vote and is now heading to the Senate.

The bill lowers the requirement to 20 hours of concealed wear and other gun training. Rep. Phil Plummer (R-Dayton), the former Montgomery County Sheriff, said rural districts with long response times from law enforcement needed it and poor districts that didn’t cannot afford school resource officers.

“We have to arm these teachers to give these kids a fighting chance,” Plummer said. “It’s not such a bad bill.”

Gayle Manning (R-North Royalton) was the only Republican to join Democrats such as Stephanie Howse (D-Cleveland) in voting no.

Howse asked if the comments of children in predominantly black districts were heard, and Godfather Thomas Hall (R-Middletown) responded that it mainly concerned rural districts.

But Howse said comments from communities like his should be taken into account.

“Our children, the black babies, are over-penalized,” Howse said. “We really have to think about what we’re doing. There’s a precedent when you arm people and they see black faces… you’re not talking about the kids I represent. And that’s problematic for me.”

Supporters said the bill allows districts to demand more training, but opponents noted that the Fraternal Order of Police is among those opposing the bill.

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