State Senator Frank LaRose (R-Copley) is chairman of the Ohio Senate Public Safety Committee, which held hearings earlier this year on school safety. He’s also an Army veteran who served on a special forces team. He told the SBE that arming teachers is not something he would support:
I am someone that has the unique perspective of working in a profession where I carried a firearm for a number of years and I’ve seen what happens when the heat is on. When the stress level are high and even the best trained in the world have accuracy as well as target identification issues. This is a heavy responsibility to carry a deadly implement and it’s really something that should only be trusted to the most skilled and trained sworn law enforcement officers.
He added that a unique situation like the one in Orrville High School in his district, with an armed teacher who is a trained law enforcement officer “may be an example where there could be an exception.”
Orrville is a tight-knit, idyllic community in Wayne County, Ohio. It’s the home of Smucker’s — “With a name like Smuckers, it has to be good!” — a small town that is in many ways not unlike Chardon. The Orrville Board of Education recently voted to allow a teacher, who is a part time law enforcement officer, to carry a concealed handgun at the high school.
Wayne County prosecutor Dan Lutz, himself a veteran with four years in the Judge Advocate General’s (aka “JAG”) Corps of the U.S. Navy, advised the Orrville district and recommended they allow the teacher to carry his concealed handgun. Lutz, also a Republican, disagreed with LaRose’s assessment:
“Obviously, the fine motor skills go out the window when someone is under significant stress. Obviously law enforcement and the military hope that their training will overcome that and allow them to function. If you take [Sen. LaRose’s] arguments to the extreme and he says it even affects those that are professional military trained, then they shouldn’t carry a gun either because it affects them, too.” Lutz added that, “You can take that argument to its logical absurdity because the stress would affect everybody, whether they’re trained in the military or law enforcement trained.”
He said the benefits outweighed the potential risks: “I think the advantages of having teachers armed to stop the potential future slaughter of our children outweigh that.” Lutz said that some additional training might be beneficial for added safety:
I’m not opposed to saying it’s a requirement that teachers have to go through significant — when I say significant — like maybe a multi-day training more so than a concealed weapon training. … That just increases the ability of the teacher to make a difference should a gunman come into a school and increases safety, too.