The Trump administration wants to support states in arming teachers. But U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos said on NBC’s Today Show Monday morning that there should not necessarily be an armed teacher in every classroom, or at every grade level.
She also said she doesn’t believe teachers should carry assault rifles, although she added that decisions were best left up to local communities.
DeVos also declined in the Today Show interview to name a specific percentage of teachers who should be armed, saying it should only be “those who are capable and qualified and only in places where it’s appropriate.”
And she didn’t weigh in on whether teachers should be told to conceal their weapons in order to surprise potential attackers, or have them out in the open.
“This is an issue that is best decided by local communities and by states. It is not going to be appropriate in every location, but it is going to be appropriate in some places,” DeVos said. “Communities should have the tools, states should have the tool[s] but nobody should be mandated to do it.”
DeVos’ appearance comes one day after the White House unveiled its school safety plan to address gun violence in the wake of the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman High School in Parkland, Fla. The centerpiece of that proposal: A commission chaired by DeVos that will support states that want to arm teachers.
The commission will also investigate issues that the administration believes are related to gun violence, such as video games, mental health access, and the effects of media coverage of mass shootings.
Not part of the plan, at least right now: Raising the age at which individuals can buy assault weapons from 18 to 21. President Donald Trump has said in the past that he supported that move, but the National Rifle Association staunchly opposes it.
On the Today Show, Savannah Guthrie pressed DeVos on the absence of raising the legal age for gun purchases from the school safety plan. DeVos told her that “everything is on the table” and that the commission would consider whether changes to the age limit are needed.
In a separate interview Monday morning on Fox’s “Fox and Friends,” DeVos was asked about Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer’s response to the president’s proposal. Schumer, a Democrat from New York, called the plan “baby steps” and said that Congress needs to debate more serious gun control measures.
In response, DeVos said there are pieces of legislation Congress should enact as soon as possible to help prevent further gun violence, including the STOP Act. And she warned against partisan gridlock on the issue. “Camps go into their various corners and then we sit and can’t get anything done,” she said.
Watch the DeVos interview on the Today Show here:
Watch her Fox and Friends appearance here:
Photo: Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos speaks at a news conference on March 7, in Coral Springs, Fla., following a visit to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. (Lynne Sladky/AP)
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