Have you been following all of the recent conversations about gun reform and school safety? Me too, and I've been banking on getting some good news surrounding it all— but the latest report to come about really has me vexed. If you haven't heard, Donald Trump's school safety commission won't discuss guns going forward. TBH, it's incredibly disappointing news for gun control activists, hopeful students, their parents, and school staff (and probably many of you, too), so I apologize in advance for being the bearer of bad news.
When asked about whether or not the commission would focus on the impact of guns as they relate to school violence during a Senate meeting on June 5, U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos appeared to back away from the topic. She replied, "That is not part of the commission's charge, per se." Instead, DeVos declared that the focus of the commission is "school safety and how we can ensure our students are safe at school." (??? Does that somehow not include gun issues, especially when school shootings seem to be happening ALL THE TIME? Someone tell me if I'm tripping.)
As pointed out by NBC News, her comments also seemingly contradict the Federal Commission on School Safety's mission statement, in which it said its focus was to create solutions to keep students safe at school, including social emotional support, recommendations on effective school safety infrastructure, and — wait for it — discussion on the minimum age requirements for firearms purchases.
I would shake my head even harder, but I'd probably need a chiropractor afterwards. Twitter users didn't hold back their thoughts, though.
Good to know I'm not alone in my confusion.
On the bright side of things, though, you probably already saw this coming. Days ago, on May 22, DeVos addressed school safety during testimony on Capitol Hill following the tragic Santa Fe shooting — which happened on May 18, and left 10 people dead and another 10 injured — and she failed to mention gun control at all. When speaking about the shooting, she simply said it "was only the most recent, devastating reminder that our nation must come together to address the underlying issues that create a culture of violence." She continued, "Our commitment to every student's success is one we must renew every day, but first we must ensure our children are safe at school."
She momentarily left a glimmer of hope that the commission might pursue gun safety measures by saying it would deliver the "best practices" to help protect students by the end of the year. But DeVos immediately crushed those hopes by saying the "primary responsibility for the physical security of schools rests with states and local communities."
So there's that.
President Donald Trump first created the school safety commission back in March — weeks after the Parkland shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School that left 17 students and faculty members dead — in an attempt to "secure our schools." In a list of actions supported by President Trump, shared by the White House on March 12, there were promises made to take “immediate action” on gun safety in schools, including the creation of the commission — which was supposed to "make recommendations" for ways to implement universal background checks for firearm purchases, raise the minimum age requirement for certain weapon purchases, and more. However, very little has been done to fulfill those promises ever since. And with the latest development surrounding school safety, it looks like nothing about that is changing any time soon.
While it may seem likely, there's always the possibility that the commission will adjust its focus to hear the pleas of those who support gun policy reform. Who knows — maybe DeVos'll start listening soon.
(OK, I doubt it, but it can't hurt to be a bit hopeful. Y'know?)