Ohio lawmaker: Let 18-year-olds carry guns in schools

Posted at 9:11 AM, Mar 16, 2018
and last updated 2018-03-16 09:11:08-04

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Law-abiding high school students who are 18 or older should be allowed to carry long guns inside public high schools, an Ohio lawmaker said on Thursday.

Republican Rep. Niraj Antani, of Miamisburg, said state law allows those 18 or older to carry a long gun, so anyone who complies "should be able to carry and protect themselves." He first made the remarks in an interview with the Dayton Daily News.

Antani, who previously supported gun rights on campuses, said he was not recommending arming high school students, but believes those who meet legal requirements should have the option to carry.

"I'm not advocating anyone should do anything," he told The Associated Press on Thursday. "I'm not introducing a bill."

Antani's comments followed a heated Twitter exchange during Wednesday's nationwide day of action by tens of thousands of high school students demanding action on gun violence and school safety. About 300 students demonstrated at the Ohio Statehouse as part of the activism sparked by the Feb. 14 school shooting in Parkland, Florida, that left 17 dead.

FULL COVERAGE: Parkland school shooting

Democrat Zach Dickerson, Antani's opponent in this year's election, sought out his position on guns in schools. Antani confirmed repeatedly in tweets that he supported students — and all Ohioans who are legally able — to carry firearms in public places.

"I think a lot of elected officials are afraid to give their view; I'm not," Antani said. "My view is that gun-free zones don't work and that if you are a law-abiding citizen you should be able to protect yourself."

Dickerson engaged Antani and shared his position extensively, including with a tweet on Thursday: "Do you think arming teachers is a bad idea? @NirajAntani wants to arm the students too. This is dumb and dangerous policy."

Antani said Dickerson mischaracterized his position by suggesting he wanted to "arm students."

"I'm not arming anyone and that is a completely wrong term," he said. "You are not arming anyone. You are allowing them to exercise their constitutional right to protect themselves, and gun-free zones rob us of those rights."

Antani said he has long been a strong supporter of Second Amendment rights, so his stance should come as no surprise.