Sadly, we are occasionally reminded that there are dangerous people in this world who do unexpected things at unexpected times. The school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut and the bombing at the Boston Marathon are a couple of the most recent examples.
It should not be overlooked, however, that during terrible times there are a lot of good people who put their lives in harm's way to help their fellow man. One of the most important concerns as a society remains finding ways to ensure safety in our schools. Some of the changes that could be made to make schools safer are probably easy to make, others less so.
House Bill 8, which was introduced earlier this year and referred to the House Education Committee, seeks to address some of these concerns and implement policies that at least move our state in the direction of added safety. As one of the sponsors of the bill said, the goal of the legislation is to promote some of the "easiest and most recognizable actions we can take" on the issue of school safety. Obviously, some actions are more complicated and deserve more time, but if there are simple steps that can be taken in the interim, there is no time to waste.
On an issue like this, I firmly believe it is important to maintain local control whenever possible. Ohio is a very diverse state, and solutions should be fit according to the needs of certain districts. Therefore, one aspect of the bill requires school districts to collaborate with local law enforcement to develop safety plans.
The bill also says a school board to permit an employee to carry a concealed handgun while school is in session. No employee will ever be required to carry a gun against his will, but HB 8 opens up the possibility.
It is important to point out that this bill is still in the early stages of debate. As a member of the House Education Committee, I look forward to hearing further testimony both in committee and from the people of the 95th House District. It is impossible to know whether a given policy change would have stopped some of the horrific events that have taken place in schools. But as a father of three, I know that when it comes to the safety of our children, no parent is content simply standing on the sidelines.
Rep. Andy Thompson may be reached by calling (614) 644-8728, e-mailing Rep95@ohiohouse.gov, or writing to State Rep. Andy Thompson, 77 South High St., Columbus, Ohio 43215.