Washington state Senator Patty Murray along with more than 40 other Senate Democrats sent Education Secretary Betsy DeVos a letter urging her to abandon a reported plan to allow states to use federal funds to purchase firearms and pay for firearm training for teachers and school staff.
“This plan runs counter to the bipartisan Every Student Succeeds Act and will make our schools more dangerous and our students less safe,” the letter reads in part.
The New York Times reported earlier this month that Secretary DeVos is considering whether to allow schools to use federal grants from the Every Student Succeeds Act to buy guns for teachers.
Those funds are intended for programs to “keep students safe, healthy and provide a well-rounded education,” according to Sen. Murray’s office.
“Congress never intended for these funds to be used to purchase weapons, or train teachers in how to use weapons in schools,” the letter continues, noting that Congress denounced the presence of firearms in schools in the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965.
While the reported proposal sparked immediate concern and backlash by Democratic lawmakers, the U.S. Department of Education has not confirmed such a plan is in the works.
A spokeswoman told USA Today “there was no substance to the reports,” which appear to have stemmed from a question from the Texas Education Agency about whether schools can use federal grants for firearms.
In a statement, Department of Education press secretary Liz Hill said: “the department is constantly considering and evaluating policy issues, particularly related to school safety.”
“The Secretary nor the Department issues opinions on hypothetical scenarios,” she added.
However, DeVos said in March that arming teachers “should be an option for states and communities to considered,” in circumstances where staff members are capable, according to CNBC.
In addition to Senator Murray’s letter, House Democrats have also written the Education Secretary, asking her to clarify and confirm that federal funding cannot be used to arm teachers or school staff.