Tuesday, January 21, 2020
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Lawsuit might stop Ohio school from arming teachers

Madison Senior/Junior High School in Middletown, Ohio, about midway between Cincinnati and Dayton, was the scene of a school shooting in February 2016 in which an eighth-grade student fired a gun and injured two other students.

(school website)

Then in April of this year, Madison school officials voted—unanimously—to allow qualified teachers to carry guns in school during school hours. A national gun control group has become involved in the district, and the issue has brought heated debate ever since, including an angry letter from parents in July.

Now a group of families has filed an actual lawsuit, according to news reports.

“Like many Madison parents, we have serious questions about the district’s resolution and how it will affect our kids’ safety,” the Journal-News quoted Erin Gabbard, one of the plaintiffs and a parent of two children attending Madison Elementary School, as saying. “We’ve asked repeatedly for answers, but the board is continuing to keep the public in the dark about important details, from requirements for storage to the rules of engagement.”

It’s a civil lawsuit, filed in Common Pleas Court in Butler County against the school, and it asks the court to order schools not to allow any Madison staff members from carrying weapons until they complete additional training.

The Cincinnati Enquirer quoted Rachel Bloomekatz, an attorney for the plaintiffs, as saying that the lawsuit could have far-reaching implications for other districts in Ohio that have moved to arm teachers. “These parents have talked to me about what the dropoff feels like—about what putting their kids on the bus feels like,” she was quoted as saying. “No parent should have to feel like that.”

Whatever you may think about guns, the heart of the issue here is that in a lawsuit, the court will be required to review the laws of Ohio, which require extensive training for anyone an Ohio school board is going to authorize to carry deadly weapons at school. Any policy that short-circuits that training is going to be found in violation of that law.

Laws, of course, can be changed, and this issue may be revisited after such a change, but I think a change that reduces the requirement of extensive firearms training would be a mistake. In heated situations, even trained police officers miss their intended target sometimes.

Paul Katula is the executive editor of the Voxitatis Research Foundation, which publishes this blog. For more information, see the About page.

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