Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine says he wants to give teachers the tools they need to prevent or deal with school shootings.
"The truth is that while we train first responders, the real first responders in these tragedies are teachers. They are the ones who are there," says DeWine. "They are the ones who make the life and death decisions. They are the ones who are going to do what they can do to save lives. By the time the first responders get there, we may have a number of children killed."
DeWine is offering an upcoming training course for teachers….and just the description of it can be chilling.
"It’s an active shooter for educators course or maybe a better way of saying it is how you deal with an active shooter if you are an educator," says DeWine.
DeWine says the court will be a partnership between law enforcement, school leaders, and individual school staff members. When asked whether he thinks schools should allow teachers or administrators to carry guns to defend themselves in case of an emergency, DeWine responds by saying he’d consider it if he were on a local school board.
"I would seriously consider having someone in that school, maybe an ex police officer, someone who had significant training who had access to a gun in a school," says DeWine. "But you’d have to be very careful about it. I’m not saying everyone’s school should be armed but someone who knows exactly what they are doing and who has that gun under lock and key but can get to it instantly….that’s something that I think I would debate and talk about in that school."
DeWine is quick to say this should be a local decision.
"Each school is different, with unique needs and has the culture of that community," says DeWine. "So it ultimately has to be made. We are a state that relies on local schools and communities and that’s what we believe. I believe it in my heart. My school district where my kids went to school is a very small school district. Cedarville, Ohio should be making that decision. Columbus should be making that decision not Mike DeWine."
But there is something DeWine says every school in Ohio must submit a plan to the state for what they’d do in the case of an emergency. He says there are about 140 that still haven’t done that. DeWine says those plans, along with maps of the schools, are entered into a database that police agencies can access in case of an emergency. He says his office will be following up with school districts to make sure they do that. And he’s calling on school districts to make sure their plans address guidelines that were brought forth by a school safety task force recently. DeWine says he doubts many in the state have re-evaluated their plans to make sure they meet those new guidelines. He’s asking them to do that now.