Senators Murphy and Blumenthal Fight Federal Proposal to Arm School Teachers

U.S. Senators Chris Murphy and Richard Blumenthal are fighting a federal proposal that could allow schools to use federal funds to provide guns to teachers.

This comes after a senior Trump administration official told The Associated Press Thursday that the Education Department is reviewing legislation governing federal academic enrichment grants to see if the money can be used to procure firearms.

“Arming teachers is one of the most dangerous ideas that anyone could ever come up with for our school children,” Murphy, a Democrat, said. “Teachers don’t want to be armed. Parents don’t want schools to be armed. Kids don’t want their schools to be armed. We are going to do everything n our power to make sure that Department of Education funds, taxpayer dollars, do not get used to put weapons in our classrooms.”

The plan, first reported by The New York Times, prompted swift condemnation from Democratic lawmakers and many educators on Thursday, who accused the Trump administration of wanting to deprive students of much-needed mental health support and other resources in the interests of the National Rifle Association.

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, who chairs a federal commission on school safety, has previously said that schools should have the option to arm teachers. The commission, formed in the aftermath of the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, that killed 17 people, has been criticized for omitting the topic of gun control.

Nearly six years have passed since the shooting here in Connecticut, at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, where 20 students and six faculty and staff members were killed in December 2012.

As Connecticut enacted stricter gun control legislation in the state, Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy, of Connecticut, stepped up calls for stricter gun control laws on a federal level. On Thursday, he introduced an amendment that would block the Education Department from using the funds to arm schools.

“Teachers’ jobs are already hard enough,” Murphy said Friday morning. “We ask teachers to do more today than we ever have before.”

He said teachers are stretched thin today and don’t have the ability to be trained in firearms and to safely manipulate and store weapons in schools.

“The Secretary of Education cares more about the firearms industry’s bottom line than the safety of our kids, and that should scare parents to death. I have two elementary school age boys, and so I’m going to do everything in my power to make sure that Secretary DeVos’s plan to arm our schools is stopped in its tracks. I’m introducing legislation today to block the arming of teachers, and I do so knowing that earlier this year, Democrats and Republicans in Congress came together to pass a bill that expressly opposed putting guns in the hands of teachers. Congress doesn’t think this is a good idea. Parents don’t think this is a good idea. Teachers don’t think this is a good idea. Only Betsy DeVos and the gun industry want this. More kids will be killed in schools if this policy is put in place—plain and simple. That’s why Congress must block its implementation,” Murphy said in a statement Thursday.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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