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Schools could buy guns with federal funds if Ed. Dept. allows it

A man shoots at the range. (Max Pixel/Released)
August 24, 2018

The U.S. Education Department is mulling over allowing schools to use federal grant money to purchase guns and gun training for school personnel.

The Education Department, headed by Betsy DeVos, received inquiries from Texas and Oklahoma earlier this year asking for clarification about whether or not they could use money from the Title IV-funded Student Support and Academic Enrichment grant to purchase guns, NBC reported Thursday.

The money would be used for “guns, gun training/marshal training for school personnel, metal protectors, bullet proof entries, or other services associated with crisis management” in Texas school districts, according to a source that gave NBC an internal Education Department email. Officials in Oklahoma had also reportedly asked for clarification about what grant money and how it can be used, the Washington Post reported.

The $1.1 billion grant program was written in 2015, and there is flexibility when it comes to what the grant allows – it does not explicitly disallow purchasing guns, for example.

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The inquiries were first reported by The New York Times. The Education Department has not made a decision about the request, according to a senior administration official, NBC said.

“The Department is constantly considering and evaluating policy issues, particularly issues related to school safety,” said Education Department press secretary Liz Hill. “The Secretary nor the Department issues opinions on hypothetical scenarios.”

Texas officials told NBC there was no formal request to use the grant money for guns. They did, however, email the Education Department in April for “clarification on allowable uses of Title IV funding for school safety purposes,” Texas Education Agency spokesperson Ronnie Burchett told NBC.

The idea of using federal grant money to purchase guns and arm personnel has stirred debate, with sides both in favor of the suggested proposal and those who think arming teachers is only adding to the problem of school shootings.

Democrats and gun-control activists are not in favor of the move, and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said Thursday that the idea was “recklessness” and “absurdity.”

President Donald Trump in February tweeted that teachers should be armed.

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“Armed Educators (and trusted people who work within a school) love our students and will protect them. Very smart people. Must be firearms adept & have annual training. Should get yearly bonus. Shootings will not happen again – a big & very inexpensive deterrent. Up to States,” he wrote.

In February, 17 people were killed when former student and shooting suspect Nikolas Cruz opened fire at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.