Yesterday, nearly 100 gun violence survivors and volunteers with Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America put on their red t-shirts and packed the room for a Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee hearing on the implementation of The Every Student Succeeds Act. The Department of Education, lead by Secretary Betsy DeVos, is reportedly weighing whether to allow federal education dollars to be spent on buying guns and arming teachers under The Every Student Succeeds Act.
Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA) opened the hearing by reminding us that the “growing number of deadly school shootings around our country” should be a focus of this committee and that, “in the aftermath of these shootings, we should be doing everything we can to address gun violence and make our schools safer.” “Unfortunately,” she said, “Secretary DeVos is heading in the opposite direction.” Senator Murray made clear that arming teachers is not what Congress intended when the bipartisan education bill was passed, pointing out that even Republican appropriators like Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK) oppose the use of funds from The Every Student Succeeds Act for guns.
Then, Senator Michael Bennet (D-CO) asked the witnesses, made up of state education leaders from Nebraska, Delaware, New Jersey and South Carolina, if there is “anybody on the panel who believes that we should be spending federal education dollars to arm teachers in our schools.” Watch the lack of support here:
Later, Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT) asked the panel if they were aware of any data that suggests arming our teachers makes schools safer. The response from the education experts says it all.
In addition to Senators Murray, Bennet and Murphy, Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Bob Casey (D-PA), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Doug Jones (D-AL) and Tina Smith (D-MN) also raised the dangers of arming teachers with guns. In fact, no Senator, including Republican Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN), expressed support for arming teachers with guns, with Chairman Alexander saying “I am not a fan of arming teachers.”
Since the mass shooting in Parkland, Fla., the Trump Administration has taken little action to actually address gun violence, despite creating the Federal Commission on School Safety, led by Secretary DeVos. Shortly after the Commission was created, Secretary DeVos announced the Commission would not even look at the role of guns in school shootings, but now her Department is trying to arm teachers. Instead of letting the Department of Education endanger children by arming teachers, Congress should work to keep guns out of the hands of people with dangerous histories. Here are meaningful steps the Trump Administration could take to actually address gun violence at schools and elsewhere.