An Ohio school district has implemented a policy that enables qualified, trained staff members to be armed as part of a strategy to enhance school safety.
Adam Wickham, the superintendent of the River Valley Local School District, said the protocol will enhance response times so local schools are no longer soft targets — a factor in the horrific mass shooting at a Christian school in Tennessee last month.
River Valley now joins 21 other public school districts in Ohio that have armed staff in place, the Marion Star reported Thursday.
“Our schools will no longer be soft targets and unprotected,” Wickham said, according to the Star. “Most active shooter events occur in areas of ‘gun free zones’ or with minimal safety measures in place. We want to ensure our schools will not be soft targets.
“As a rural community, response times can often be minutes away in the event of an active shooter. The use of armed staff in our buildings can potentially save lives by providing a more immediate response to the threat.
“Recent school shootings such as in Nashville, Uvalde (Texas), and Parkland (Florida) clearly show that the quicker the response time, the more likely you are to potentially save lives.”
The policy is in line with an Ohio law that went into effect in September 2022.
Under the Republican-backed House Bill 99, local boards of education are authorized to permit teachers and other school workers to carry legal firearms.
When Ohio Republican Gov. Mike DeWine signed the legislation back in June 2022, he underscored that schools are not required to arm teachers.
“This is a local choice, not mandated by the legislature nor by the government,” DeWine said, according to the Ohio Capital Journal. “Each school board will determine what is best for their students, their staff and their community.”
Republican state Rep. Thomas Hall said he sponsored HB 99 in response to constituents who were terrified following the May 2022 mass shooting in Uvalde in which a gunman killed 19 students and two teachers.
In that shocking incident, law enforcement waited more than an hour before shooting the heavily armed suspect, who casually meandered from classroom to classroom massacring helpless students.
Here’s the security cam footage from Uvalde. It doesn’t appear from this video that the police ever confront the shooter or even try to open the classroom doors. Infuriating. pic.twitter.com/wmOh4zAH9o
— Clay Travis (@ClayTravis) July 12, 2022
“After the horrific event that transpired in Uvalde, Texas, constituents and even many lawmakers were advocating for, and I quote, to ‘do something,’” Hall said. “I’m proud to be a part of this moment of, in fact, doing something that will without a doubt protect students and staff.”
In the River Valley Local School District, staffers are required to undergo 24 hours of training before they’re allowed to carry a gun, according to a community memo the superintendent posted in January.
Wickham reassured concerned parents that only qualified, trained staffers will participate in the program.
“Some have expressed questions about the training and selection process,” the superintendent said, according to the Marion Star. “The vast majority of parents have expressed appreciation for the proactive approach in protecting their children. That is really a main reason for adopting the use of armed staff.
“While we understand not everyone will support this program, every safety measure we take at River Valley, including the use of armed staff, is put in place to try and ensure our staff and students can go home safely to their families and loved ones, each and every day.”
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.