WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Trump administration on Sunday announced plans to help states pay to train teachers in the use of firearms in response to a series of deadly shootings in U.S. schools.
The plan does not yet incorporate the president’s earlier pledge to raise the age limit for purchasing certain firearms from 18 to 21 but does include the option to allow trained teachers and staff to carry concealed weapons on campus as a means of protecting students from armed intruders.
“If you had a teacher who was adept at firearms, they could end the attack very quickly,” Trump said last month during a bipartisan meeting on gun control.
To help jumpstart the effort, Trump has directed the Justice Department to aid states in partnering with local law enforcement to provide “rigorous firearms training to specifically qualified volunteer school personnel,” said Andrew Bremberg, director of the president’s Domestic Policy Council.
Reiterating its call to improve background check systems and for states to pass temporary, court-issued Risk Protection Orders that would allow law enforcement to confiscate guns from individuals who pose risks to themselves and others and temporarily prevent them from buying firearms, the White House described the effort as a promise kept by the president to help keep America’s children safe and to help “harden” schools from violence. The move comes in response to a February 14 mass school shooting in Parkland, Florida in which 17 victims were killed and dozens more were injured.
“Today we are announcing meaningful actions, steps that can be taken right away to help protect students,” said Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, who will chair a commission to oversee the project.
“Far too often, the focus” after such shootings “has been only on the most contentious fights, the things that have divided people and sent them into their entrenched corners,” said DeVos during a call with reporters on Sunday evening.
During the call, DeVos also announced the White House’s urging for Congress to pass a second bill that would create a federal grant program to help train students, teachers, and school officials on how to identify early warning signs of potential violence and focus on early intervention.
While Republican lawmakers were quick to praise the president’s efforts, Democrats condemned the plan, saying the changes simply weren’t enough to ensure safety in America’s schools.
Calling the plan “weak on security” Sen. Bob Casey, (D)-Pa., referred to the proposal as “an insult to the victims of gun violence.”
“When it comes to keeping our families safe, it’s clear that President Trump and Congressional Republicans are all talk and no action,” Casey said in a released statement.
The House is expected to vote on the STOP School Violence Act sometime next week.