By Marc Kovac
A Republican lawmaker from the Akron area introduced legislation Wednesday aimed at making schools safer.
Rep. Kristina Roegner, from Hudson, said House Bill 8 is a placeholder, meaning its contents will be developed during coming committee deliberations.
But the bill could include firearms-related provisions as lawmakers grapple with their legislative response to the recent school shooting in Connecticut that left more than two dozen people, mostly youngsters, dead.
“Certainly, it’s a priority for the House, not only in this state but I imagine across the nation, to make sure that our children are safe,” Roegner said. “So that’s what this legislation will do.”
In Ohio, only on-duty officers, hired security guards and those given permission by school boards are allowed to carry.
Roegner recounted a recent conversation with a couple of police chiefs who suggested allowing off- duty officers to carry firearms on school grounds.
“The idea that these gentlemen brought to me was what about off-duty police officers?” she said. “They have the same training, they’re the same people, they want to protect the public, they know how to use their weapons. Why do they have to take their weapon off when they go into school and they’re off duty? That’s just one example of something that might be in the bill.”
Also Wednesday, the Senate announced the creation of a new joint committee on school safety to consider comparable issues. Sen. Frank LaRose, a Republican from the Akron area, is serving as co-chairman.
“Our only agenda is to make sure our children are as safe as they can be and that we deter those who have violent intentions,” Senate President Keith Faber, a Republican from Celina, said in a released statement. “This committee will engage safety experts and the public in a thoughtful discussion to find reasonable solutions to the problem of violence in public spaces.”
Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine has said he is open to allowing trained school staff to carry firearms, and his office is offering training to teachers and school officials on how to respond to shooting incidents.