It would reverse some long-standing Congressional positions. But is it the right thing to do?
Call it a ‘sign of the times’. A bold new solution to situations like Parkland has been put forward. No, not another attempt at banning firearms. They’re going the other direction.
The proposal involves changing legislation to permit schools to pay for firearms from Federal dollars.
Betsy DeVos is considering it. Letting Federal dollars fund arming those who would defend students would be one of the ways that schools could be ‘hardened targets’ — meaning, students would no longer be ‘sitting ducks’ with nobody on site to defend their lives.
Such a move appears to be unprecedented, reversing a longstanding position taken by the federal government that it should not pay to outfit schools with weapons. And it would also undermine efforts by Congress to restrict the use of federal funding on guns. As recently as March, Congress passed a school safety bill that allocated $50 million a year to local school districts, but expressly prohibited the use of the money for firearms.
But the department is eyeing a program in federal education law, the Student Support and Academic Enrichment grants, that makes no mention of prohibiting weapons purchases. That omission would allow the education secretary, Betsy DeVos, to use her discretion to approve any state or district plans to use grant funding for firearms and firearm training, unless Congress clarifies the law or bans such funding through legislative action.
In its research, the Education Department has determined that the gun purchases could fall under improving school conditions, people familiar with the department’s thinking said. Under the current guidelines for that part of the grant, the department encourages schools to increase access to mental health counseling, establish dropout prevention programs, reduce suspensions and expulsions and improve re-entry programs for students transitioning from the juvenile justice system.
But the department began exploring whether to expand the use of the support grants after the school shootings in Parkland, Fla., and Santa Fe, Tex., prompted states to inquire about alternatives. Department officials were considering whether to issue guidance on the funding before the start of the new school year, but have been weighing the political and legal ramifications, according to people familiar with the discussions. — Source: NY Times
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by Doug Giles
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