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Attorney General Candidates Take Different Paths On Guns And School Safety

Democratic candidate for Ohio Attorney General, Steve Dettlebach, left, and Republican candidate Dave Yost, right.
Andy Chow
Ohio Public Radio
Democratic candidate for Ohio Attorney General, Steve Dettlebach, left, and Republican candidate Dave Yost.

Politicians and advocates have been sounding off nationwide about what the country should do about gun control policies in the wake of the mass school shooting that killed 17 people in Parkland, Florida. 

Some same conversations are happening right here in Ohio from Gov. John Kasich calling for common sense changes to lawmakers proposing bans. The talk about guns and school safety is starting to impact a big statewide race.

The two candidates running for Ohio Attorney General are laying out what they would do to help keep kids safe. But it's clear they have very different approaches to the issue.

Yost's View

Republican Auditor Dave Yost unveiled his School Entry Control and Urgent Response program – nicknamed SECUR.

“We need to protect our kids at school just as well as we protect our politicians at work,” Yost said.

His plan would:

  • Perform a statewide inventory of the security measures in place for all 5,200 school buildings.
  • Use a state bond to fund modifications so school buildings can meet the minimum security standards, such as single point entry, electronic zoned locking systems and video cameras
  • Create an in-depth training program for teachers and school staff who would like to carry a firearm in school. But, it would be voluntary and only for people who are former law enforcement or veterans.

“Those people are useful backups, those people, many of them are asking for the ability to be able to step into the gap while they’re waiting for the officers to arrive," Yost said.
Yost says this plan, especially the bond, will make sure no school is left more susceptible to an attack, despite their financial circumstance.

“Just because a school district might not have the money or they’ve got older buildings that are more difficult to deal with, those kids shouldn’t be at any more risk than kids in a rich district," Yost said.

Dettlebach's View

But Steve Dettelbach, the Democratic former U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Ohio, says Yost’s proposal is shortsighted and says more needs to be done to stop gun violence no matter where it takes place.

“We need to keep our kids safe on the way from school and to school in the morning also, and in malls and in churches and in movie theaters and in open air concerts in Las Vegas and all of those other places, too,” Dettelbach said.

Dettelbach proposes a wider range of policies that don’t focus on just schools.

  • Taking guns away from domestic violence offenders
  • Restricting guns for people who have an established record of serious mental health problems
  • Reinstating the assault-style weapons ban
  • Universal background checks

“Somebody who is running a legitimate firearms license dealer has to run a background check to sell a weapon. You shouldn’t be able to buy that exact same weapon still in the shrink wrap without having a background check it just doesn’t make sense and we’ve seen over and over that there’s problems with it,” Dettelbach said.
Dettelbach said he also has a problem with Yost’s proposal to arm school teachers and staff who are former military or law enforcement, saying that administrators and police have said before that that’s a bad idea.

“I think this is a politician’s plan quite frankly I mean it doesn’t protect people in any meaningful way it’s more than a day late and much more than a dollar short," Dettelbach said.

Yost says the best thing in the event of a school shooter is to have someone to respond immediately, saying that an attack usually takes four to five minutes and it takes more than eight minutes for first responders to get to the scene.

Andy Chow is a general assignment state government reporter who focuses on environmental, energy, agriculture, and education-related issues. He started his journalism career as an associate producer with ABC 6/FOX 28 in Columbus before becoming a producer with WBNS 10TV.