Neither bill should come as a surprise. It’s true of course, that when parents send their children to school, the school district owes those families safety. Trouble is (at least to those who want teachers armed) is that the better solution to assure safety – assigning police to schools and installing metal detectors – costs more than many school boards say they can afford to pay.
Common sense suggests the state government could supply the necessary funds from the gazillions of dollars in non-Medicaid federal aid it gets, or by spending some of the $2.75 billion “unencumbered fund balance” (bureaucrat-speak for “surplus”) Ohio expects to have in its General Revenue Fund on June 30, end of the current fiscal year.
The steady expansion – and now, possibly, the virtual repeal – of Ohio’s concealed handgun law was foreseen from the day that Republican then-Gov. Bob Taft signed it on Jan. 8, 2004. (Among those voting “yes” on the concealed handgun bill was then-Rep. Jon Husted, a suburban Dayton Republican, who is now Ohio’s lieutenant governor.)
Passage of the 2003-2004 concealed carry law was considered a major achievement of then-House Speaker Larry Householder, a Republican from Perry County’s Glenford, who in mid-2020 was indicted on federal corruption charges unrelated to the concealed-carry law. Householder is presumed innocent of the federal charges unless convicted.
Since Taft signed the 2003-2004 law, here’s the history: A steady rollback of Ohio gun laws, all to please a relentless lobby till – it sometimes seems – Ohioans will be required to arm themselves as soon as they can walk.
In 2019, latest year available, Ohio ranked fifth among the states in the number of firearms deaths; meanwhile, Ohio ranks seventh in population, lags the nation in median household income (Ohio’s is $56,602, the nation’s is $62,343) and has more poverty, percentagewise, than the nationwide rate. Ohio’s rate is 13.1%, the nation’s is 11.4%.
Comforting, isn’t it, that the General Assembly has the right priorities?
THANKSGIVING: Despite the General Assembly’s antics (ably seconded by some of Ohio’s statewide elected officials), some low-profile public servants on Capitol Square deserve taxpayers’ thanks amid these days of gratitude. At the top of Job’s List for World-Class Patience are the women and men of the Ohio Senate and Ohio House clerks’ offices and of the Legislative Service Commission. Without their dedication, the General Assembly simply could not function. Thank you one and all.
Thomas Suddes is an adjunct assistant professor at Ohio University.