Teachers and staff will be able to carry firearms to school after a maximum of 24 hours of training under the new legislation.
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine, a Republican, signed a bill Monday allowing school districts to arm workers.
The move is being opposed by major law enforcement groups, gun control advocates and state teachers unions — with only a handful of police departments and school districts supporting it.
The law requires up to 24 hours of training before an employee can be armed, and up to eight hours of annual training.
Training programs must also be approved by the Ohio School Safety Center, the governor said, and schools can provide additional training if they choose.
Before announcing the new legislation, Mr DeWine outlined several other school safety measures he and politicians have promoted, including $100m (£82m) for school safety improvements and 5 million (£4 million) for colleges.
Ohio is also adding 28 employees to the School Safety Center to work with districts on safety issues and to provide training under the new law.
DeWine said Ohio has also provided $1.2bn (£986m) in welfare funding to schools to address mental health and other issues.
The new law “gives schools the ability, based on their particular circumstances, to make the best decision possible with the best information they have,” he said.
The governor said he would prefer school districts to hire armed school resource officers, but insisted the law is another tool for districts to protect children.
He also stressed that this is an optional option and not a requirement.
In response, a group of Democratic mayors from Ohio gathered Monday to criticize the measure and the failure of Republican politicians to consider any gun control proposals.
Instead, they seek universal background checks, red flag laws to remove guns from anyone perceived as a threat, as well as raising the legal age to purchase guns to 21 and a ban on assault rifles like those used in the Uvalde, Texas, school shooting in which 19 children and two teachers were killed.
“All of these things are common sense,” Toledo Mayor Wade Kapszukiewicz said.
“We are in a situation where we cannot pass legislation that 95% of our citizens support.”
Democrats also say the Ohio law sends the wrong message so soon after the Uvalde massacre.
Mr. DeWine has also come under fire from former Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley, his Democratic gubernatorial opponent, over the bill.
She said the Ohio governor broke his promise to address gun violence after a mass shooting in Dayton killed nine people and injured more than two dozen in August 2019.
In the aftermath of the Dayton Massacre, Mr. DeWine announced his “STRONG Ohio” plan to address gun violence.
His proposals included higher sentences for violent criminals caught with guns and ensuring that people with mental illness cannot have guns if a court deems them dangerous to themselves and others.
The governor said cracking down on violent criminals is also a way to protect children.
“We see a lot of children being killed not in school, but in their own homes, in their own streets,” he said.
About 120 children died from gunshot wounds last year, compared to 96 in 2020 and 71 in 2019, according to state health department data.
You Can Read Also