Education Department considering letting school districts buy guns with federal funds
The Department of Education is considering allowing states to use federal funding to purchase firearms for educators, according to a New York Times report citing multiple people with knowledge of the possible plan.
Secretary Betsy DeVos’ Education Department is considering using the Student Support and Academic Enrichment grants program in federal law, which makes no prohibition against purchasing weapons, to approve any state or district plans to purchase firearms, the Times reported. Such spending would come from existing funds that are used to improve school conditions, according to the Times.
Liz Hill, a spokeswoman for the Education Department, did not confirm or deny that the department is considering such a move in a statement to CBS News.
“The department is constantly considering and evaluating policy issues, particularly issues related to school safety,” Hill said. “The secretary nor the department issues opinions on hypothetical scenarios.”
A Department of Education official also argued that “Congress wrote an ambiguous law” when it comes to using federal funds to purchase weapons for schools, and no decisions have been made on whether to move forward with the idea.
DeVos was criticized earlier this year when she acknowledged the Education Department’s new Federal Commission on School Safety, created after the Parkland shooting,.
Arming teachers and other school employees has been a key proposal from Mr. Trump in the wake of the Parkland shooting.
“We have to harden our schools, not soften them up. A gun-free zone to a killer or somebody that wants to be a killer, that’s like going in for the ice cream. Like here I am — take me,” the president said at the White House in February.
“Shooters won’t walk into a school if 20 percent of people have guns,” he added.
That idea never made it into law.
Top members of Congress aren’t so keen on the reported Education Department plan.
Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Connecticut, said he will be introducing an amendment this week to the minibus appropriations bill to stop DeVos.
“I’m introducing an amendment today in the appropriations bill that is pending right now to stop DeVos’ plan even before she formally introduces this because I think this is an open and shut case,” he told reporters. “I just think Americans do not want their teachers armed and we should do something about it this week.”
Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tennessee, said that while he isn’t a fan was not a fan of arming teachers argued, “I think Congress is very clear through the last three administrations the safe schools act has allowed states to make the decisions about how to spend the money to make schools safer.”
— CBS News’ Katiana Krawchenko contributed to this report.