The Trump administration is considering plans to allow schools access to federal education funds to purchase guns for teachers, a report that has drawn widespread criticism and ire from rights activists and groups.
According to the New York Times, the US Department of Education (DoE) was contemplating allowing states “to use academic enrichment funds for firearms” and the grant under consideration for the purpose is “one that does not specifically prohibit buying weapons”.
However, noted gun control groups, as well as teacher and civil rights groups have now joined hands in an attempt to block any such move, and even threatened legal action against the Department of Education.
The US has had serious problems with gun violence in the recent years, with a number of shootings in schools across the country claiming dozens of lives. In February, a shooting at a Florida school left 17 people dead, while another in May in a school in Texas left 10 people dead, including two teachers. Gun control activists have called for limiting access to guns, but advocates reject the demands, calling owning a firearm a constitutional right of Americans.
Following the Florida shooting, US lawmakers approved a $50 million safety bill for schools that allowed spending on metal detectors, locks and other security. The spending, however, barred the purchase of guns.
With the Trump administration’s new plan, the protests are likely to become more evident. Talking to NBC, Giffords Law Center chief counsel Adam Skaggs said, “We are extraordinarily concerned with this dangerous, and what we believe to be unlawful, proposal under consideration to supply teachers with federal funds to buy gun for their classrooms, instead of books and school supplies.”
Others who have joined the coalition against the planned gun purchases are American Federation of Teachers, the second-largest teachers’ union; Southern Poverty Law Center, and Democracy Forward.
The US Gun-Free School Zones Act of 1990 prohibits unauthorised individuals from bringing loaded and unsecured guns into school zones. In case the Trump administration succeeds in getting the plan approved, the situation in schools is likely to get worse, as provision of more guns to contain the already out-of-control violence will only make matters more dangerous.