Education Secretary Betsy DeVos is looking into allowing states to use federal funding to purchase firearms for educators, the New York Times reported.
The move would reverse a longstanding position from the federal government that it would not pay to give schools weapons. The plan would undermine efforts made by Congress to restrict the use of federal funding on firearms. In March, Congress passed a safety bill allocating $50 million to local school districts but prohibited the money used for weapons.
The Education Department is considering using an existing grant program, the Student Support and Academic Enrichment Program, to give funding for the weapons. The grant program does not discuss if purchasing firearms is prohibited. This loophole would allow DeVos the freedom to approve state or district grant proposals intended to use funding for the purpose of arming educators, according to the New York Times.
Although the proposal is certain to bring backlash, Liz Hull, a spokeswoman for the Education Department, responded to proposed funding and said the department is considering the move.
“The department is constantly considering and evaluating policy issues, particularly issues related to school safety. The secretary nor the department issues opinions on hypothetical scenarios.”
In the wake of the deadly school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, the controversial conversation about arming teachers continues to rise. President Donald Trump proposed arming educators and school staff on multiple occasions.
— Natalie Davis – GDPR (@gdprpeace) August 23, 2018
During a meeting with students and parents affected by school shootings in February, Trump shared his support for arming educators “if you had a teacher who was adept with the firearm, they could end the attack very quickly.” The president said he believes schools could arm up to 20 percent of their teachers to stop the shootings.
The idea of arming educators is met with sharp condemnation from students, teachers, and Congress. In response to the report, former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords said giving teachers weapons is not a solution, in a statement Wednesday.
“Arming teachers is not a solution, it recklessly puts American children in even more danger. It’s time for Americans to find the courage to take on the powerful and fight for our own safety.”
Although Trump offered solutions such as extra training for teachers to carry weapons, the proposal is still controversial. The Education Department is pushing for the proposal determining gun purchases could fall under improving school conditions, people familiar with the department told the New York Times.