Employee Firearm Authorization Policies for Schools
In light of the recent tragedy in Newtown, CT, many local area school districts are considering adopting some form of a firearm authorization policy. Any firearm authorization policy must be carefully drafted to comply with specific Ohio legal requirements and to conform to industry best practices.
What Should Be Considered?
While every policy should be tailored to a specific school district's needs, below are some of the issues that need to be addressed while considering a firearm authorization policy:
- WHO: Ohio schools may allow school resource officers (police officers), contract security, or school employees to possess firearms on campus. However in Ohio, only school employees who have satisfactorily completed an approved basic peace officer training program are eligible to be authorized to possess a firearm on school property. Any such school employee must thereafter maintain such qualifications on an annual basis. The individual should also have a valid concealed carry license.
- WHAT: What type of firearm and/or ammunition will the authorized individual be permitted to carry? For example, frangible ammunition mitigates ricochet risk, but also may be less effective at stopping an armed intruder.
- WHERE and WHEN: School boards should consider where and when any authorized individual may possess a firearm. Just in a particular building? At school-sponsored or school-sanctioned events? Board meetings? It is important to be specific.
- WHY: Before authorizing an individual to carry a firearm on school grounds, school boards should consider why they want this authorization in the first place. How fast can police respond to your school? Does such an authorization fit within your security plans? Is the board being strategic about why they are authorizing specific individuals to carry firearms?
- HOW: Any firearm authorization must be in writing. Depending on how a school board considers and adopts such an authorization, it may be exempt from public record disclosure, and thereby keep the individuals who are authorized to carry anonymous.
- The school board may want to include other mandatory training (such as crisis intervention or hostage management) for any authorized individual.
- Consider mandatory background checks (criminal and mental).
- Automatic revocation of authorization in certain circumstances, such as discipline.
- Contact your insurance carrier to determine your liability coverage.
The Bottom Line:
School boards have many issues to consider when drafting and adopting firearm authorization policies.