Sign Near School Warning of Staff Carrying Firearms Sparks Debate

The school shooting this week in Uvalde, Texas, has shined a light on how states and school districts across America protect and secure teachers and students.

A picture posted online of one sign purportedly from a school district in Ohio, according to a Reddit poster, is 200 yards away from a girl's school and says, "Attention: Entering a school zone where staff members have been given the authority to carry firearms."

Attention: Entering a school zone where staff members have been given the authority to carry firearms

The picture and post have been upvoted nearly 55,000 times.

School zone
A school safety zone sign in Ohio has gone viral following the events in Uvalde, Texas. iStock/Getty Images

Ohio Gun Laws

Gun laws changed March 21, 2017, in the open-carry state of Ohio under then-Governor John Kasich. While people in the state can legally possess and carry a firearm with or without a concealed handgun license, Section 2923.122 of state law stipulates that "no person shall knowingly convey, or attempt to convey, a deadly weapon or dangerous ordnance into a "school safety zone"—which includes schools, school buildings, school premises, school activities, and school buses.

However, provisions within the law do allow persons carrying with a valid concealed handgun license—including active military members—to carry in a school safety zone if they do not enter a school building or premises. The gun cannot leave a vehicle if in a school safety zone, and if a person exits the vehicle, they must lock it after their exit.

ABC News 5 reported in April that a new proposal in the Ohio Senate, House Bill 99, would loosen gun regulations by about 95 percent. It would essentially allow teachers, janitors, cafeteria staff and essentially anyone else who is not a student to carry a firearm after approximately two hours of training.

Opponents of the bill have called it "disturbing" while proponents have stated it would "restore some sanity to school safety."

Should We Arm Teachers?

The aforementioned sign in Ohio isn't even clear to many adults, with one Redditor asking if it is meant to deter potential shooters—to which another user replied that "it's intentionally vague so a potential shooter doesn't know who they have to defend against."

If they have received training and volunteer to have a weapon somewhere they can get to it—maybe a floor safe behind their desk, then I agree with this stance.
Reddit comment

Another user said that they assume anyone might be carrying a firearm at any time, adding that signs meant to warn others of staffers carrying firearms on school grounds may not be a deterrence if "the shooter doesn't plan on surviving in the first place."

That was the case with the shooter in Uvalde, as well as the one at Sandy Hook Elementary.

A debate sparked on whether or not arming teachers is feasible.

A few didn't mind the sign and what it means.

"Honestly I'd be fine with this," one said. "It's not like they force unwilling teachers to do it, it's voluntary."

"If they have received training and volunteer to have a weapon somewhere they can get to it—maybe a floor safe behind their desk, then I agree with this stance," said another.

Most, however, did not agree with arming teachers.

"I think the whole point half of America is trying to make is we shouldn't be ok with teachers and kids being in that situation in the first place. Arming teachers and staff is nothing more than a bandaid. How will this stop mass shootings elsewhere. Should our pastors be armed too? Our grocery store clerks?" one Redditor said.

Another said this is a hard concept to explain to non-Americans, especially on the heels of the Uvalde shooting where police were accused of standing outside instead of stopping the shooter.

How do I explain to my friends overseas that in our country, the police aren't required to save people and teachers should?
Reddit comment

"How do I explain to my friends overseas that in our country, the police aren't required to save people and teachers should?"

Others think arming the teachers could pose its own threat to children.

"It's only a matter of time before a teacher pulls a gun on a student who's misbehaving," one suggested.

Another added, "Just a matter of time a teacher snaps and shoots up their own school. Then what? Arm the students?"

Republicans in Congress are among those who have advocated for arming school personnel or limiting student entrances, while most others believe teachers are either already not valued enough or they did not sign up to take up arms.

About two dozen Republican senators have received contributions from the National Rifle Association, including 16 who received more than $1 million.

"Cops are too cowardly to engage an active shooter, but our teachers will be brave enough," one Redditor said. "Is that what I'm supposed to take away here?"