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DeVos Triggers Libs: Weighs Letting Schools Use Federal Funds To Buy Guns

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Though the fury and outrage among the liberal media has died down on the topic, there is still an ongoing debate as to how best to address school safety and school shootings at the federal level.

While the left has argued that stricter gun control laws would be the best route, conservatives have countered that hardening school defenses and allowing faculty and staff to be armed would best serve to keep students safe from mass shooters and other forms of violence — an option that Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has reportedly been considering.

Congress recently passed the Stop School Violence Act, which allocated an additional $50 million annually in grants to local school districts to be used for increased security purposes, but that bill explicitly prohibited the use of any of those funds for firearms or firearms training.

But according to The New York Times, Secretary DeVos has potentially found a way around that prohibition and is seriously considering allowing states and local school districts to utilize certain federal grant funds to both purchase firearms and fund training for teachers who wish to be armed for the protection of their students and themselves.

DeVos is reportedly eyeing a federal grant program known as Student Support and Academic Enrichment, a program that doesn’t specifically prohibit the use of funds for firearms or firearms training.

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Unless Congress steps in and passes legislation to specify such use in this particular program, DeVos could authorize states and districts to use the funds for just such a purpose.

That $1 billion grant program is part of the Every Student Succeeds Act, and is generally intended to be used for such things as “providing a well-rounded education, improving school conditions for learning and improving the use of technology for digital literacy.”

It is the “improving school conditions” provision that some believe would allow DeVos to authorize the use of federal grant money for the purchase of firearms and firearms training for teachers by states and local school districts, as that provision typically covers such things as mental health counseling, dropout prevention programs, programs to reduce expulsions or suspensions and programs to help reintroduce students into school after serving time in juvenile correctional facilities.

The Education Department reportedly began to delve into this option after the mass shooting at a high school in Parkland, Florida, and have been weighing the various legal and political ramifications to such a monumental and unprecedented move.

Would you support allowing states and local school districts to use federal grant money to purchase firearms and firearms training for teachers and staff?

Of course, there has been backlash and an outcry from the predominately anti-gun education community — and that will likely only grow louder as they are literally “triggered” by this suggestion — but this potential proposal from DeVos would seemingly be right in line with President Donald Trump’s call for allowing willing teachers to voluntarily arm themselves in order to help protect defenseless students from mass shooters.

Interestingly, this particular grant program was previously placed on the chopping block by the Trump administration but was saved from being cut by Congress, who actually increased funding for the program by $700 million in the latest spending bill.

Should this program now be used to fund a policy Trump has openly advocated for, it will be interesting to see if Congress will now move to cut it or add in prohibitions against firearms purchases and training.

The Education Department itself has studiously avoided the appearance of attempting to arm school teachers and staff themselves, rightly noting that it is an issue best decided at the state and local level. This potential use of federal grant money for firearms-related purposes would seemingly be in line with that stance, merely offering an option for states and localities to use or ignore as they wish.

The Times sought comment from DeVos and the department for their story, but department spokeswoman Liz Hill would neither confirm nor deny, and simply stated, “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.”

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As an aside, there is a great argument to be made that there should be no federal funds or grants made available to states and local school districts for any purposes whatsoever, and taxes should be reduced to allow those funds to stay in their respective states and districts to be used as the locals best see fit.

But the federal funding of schools ship sailed a long time ago, and since those funds will be disbursed to schools across the country regardless, we might as well allow the states and local districts that want to arm teachers and staff to help protect students use the funds for such a purpose, to transform the schools from “gun free zones” to “safe student zones.”

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Ben Marquis is a writer who identifies as a constitutional conservative/libertarian. He has written about current events and politics for The Western Journal since 2014. His focus is on protecting the First and Second Amendments.
Ben Marquis has written on current events and politics for The Western Journal since 2014. He reads voraciously and writes about the news of the day from a conservative-libertarian perspective. He is an advocate for a more constitutional government and a staunch defender of the Second Amendment, which protects the rest of our natural rights. He lives in Little Rock, Arkansas, with the love of his life as well as four dogs and four cats.
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