Report: Betsy DeVos May Let Schools Use Federal Education Funds to Buy Guns

DeVos. Photo: SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images

Federal funds currently designated for improving academic achievement and school conditions could be used to buy teachers guns under a new plan being considered by the Department of Education, the New York Times reports.

The plan would seemingly undermine congressional efforts to prevent federal funds from being used to buy firearms. In March, the House passed the STOP School Violence Act, which authorized $75 million in grants for schools to increase security and beef up safety measures. The act, which became law as a part of the omnibus spending bill, explicitly said none of the funds could be used to buy firearms or train people in the use of firearms.

But Education Secretary Betsy DeVos may have found a loophole. The $1 billion Student Support and Academic Enrichment Program provides grants for schools to spend on new and better courses, mental health services, and improved technology, among many other things. And while the program aims to create safe schools free of weapons, it does not explicitly ban using grant money to buy guns.

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.

Education Department officials think purchasing guns could fall under the program’s mandate to encourage safe and healthy students, the Times reports. Currently, that money is spent on programs that reduce dropout rates, prevent bullying, and encourage physical activity.

The Education Department’s proposal has drawn a swift backlash. Among those voicing opposition are Connecticut senator Chris Murphy, who called it an “insane idea.” But maybe he should have seen this coming. Last year, during DeVos’s confirmation hearing, he asked her whether guns have any place “in or around schools.” She responded by suggesting some schools might need guns to protect from “potential grizzlies.”

DeVos May Allow Federal Education Funds to Be Spent on Guns