The leading Republican on education in the U.S. Senate isn’t keen on arming teachers to make schools safer.
Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., the chairman of the Senate education committee, told the Associated Press he is “not a big fan” of giving teachers firearms to protect their schools, saying that teachers already have enough to deal with. His comments put him at odds with President Donald Trump, who has said he supports trained and experienced educators carrying guns on school grounds. Other Republicans, including U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, have also voiced support for the idea—DeVos has said arming teachers shouldn’t be mandatory but should be an option where local officials deem it appropriate.
Alexander also said that it’s up to states to arm teachers. He made a comparison to airplanes, noting that trained marshals, but not pilots, are armed during flights.
The fiscal 2018 appropriations bill signed by Trump last week includes the STOP School Violence Act, which will fund crisis-intervention teams, mental-health training, and anonymous reporting systems for potential threats to schools, among other programs in districts.
The act doesn’t put in place new gun-control measures; it also includes a ban on using money provided under the law to arm teachers or give them firearms training.
Before the STOP Act was signed into law, Alexander introduced his own legislation designed to encourage school districts to hire more counselors and mental-health professionals, under Title II and Title IV of the Every Student Succeeds Act. Democrats have been pushing for additional gun control as part of the Capitol Hill debate over school safety, but so far Republicans haven’t warmed to the idea.
Photo: Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., chairman of the Senate education committee. (J. Scott Applewhite/AP-File)