Do not harden your heart

An open letter to Governor Mike DeWine of Ohio

Dear Governor DeWine,

I appreciate your stated commitment to making our children safer in their schools. Arming their teachers is not the way to do so.

As you know, the Ohio Federation of Teachers and the Ohio Education Association have urged you to veto HB99, stating that, “The Ohio Education Association and the Ohio Federation of Teachers want to be clear: House Bill 99 will make Ohio’s students less safe in their schools.”

Everytown for Gun Safety agrees that “Research strongly supports the idea that children will access guns when guns are present”; that “Access to a firearm, irrespective of age, triples the risk of death by suicide and doubles the risk of death by homicide;” not to mention that “Arming teachers introduces new liability risks.”

More guns in our children’s schools do not make our children, nor their teachers, safer.

Again, the educators themselves lament,

“The safety of Ohio’s students and educators is our utmost priority, but we know putting more guns into school buildings in the hands of people who have woefully inadequate training—regardless of their intentions—is dangerous and irresponsible. Teachers and other school employees should not be asked to serve dual roles as educators and school safety personnel armed with weapons, but, if they are, rigorous training standards, as set under current Ohio law, are essential. House Bill 99 guts those requirements, capping the state training requirements at 24 hours and putting educators in the impossible position of making split-second life-and-death decisions without sufficient training. This could undoubtedly lead to more tragedies in our schools.”

Governor DeWine, it is time to look beyond “hardening” tactics, the escalation of available weaponry, and capitulation to a culture of gunfire in order to protect and promote our children’s welfare. Do not harden your heart (Psalm 95:8).

Instead, evidence-based research tells us that it is past time for sensible gun storage laws to keep firearms out of the hands of children and teenagers, and to teach and encourage responsibility among adult gun owners. It is past time to limit the sale of semiautomatic weapons that have no place on our city streets, let alone in our schools, or in the hands of teenagers. It is past time to strengthen background checks, which are supported by the vast majority of your constituents. It is well past time to care for one another’s mental health with access to healing and support, not firearms.

Governor DeWine, you have spoken of your faith, and so I appeal to you not only as a citizen but as a fellow Christian: Do not put a stumbling block before these little ones (see Matthew 18:6). Since 2020, injuries from firearms have become the leading cause of death among children and teens in America. Our guns have become a stumbling block to our children. Do not set more in their way.

Please veto House Bill 99 when you are offered the opportunity.

Faithfully,

The Revd Rosalind C Hughes

About Rosalind C Hughes

Rosalind C Hughes is a priest and author living near the shores of Lake Erie. After growing up in England and Wales, and living briefly in Singapore, she is now settled in Ohio. She serves an Episcopal church just outside Cleveland. Rosalind is the author of A Family Like Mine: Biblical Stories of Love, Loss, and Longing , and Whom Shall I Fear? Urgent Questions for Christians in an Age of Violence, both from Upper Room Books. She loves the lake, misses the ocean, and is finally coming to terms with snow.
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