Washington: : Donald Trump’s administration will step up aid to states that want to arm school employees, officials said Sunday under a plan to increase campus safety after the killing of 17 people in Florida. The controversial idea to put weapons in schools, which has drawn little support from educators, is part of a “pragmatic plan to dramatically increase school safety and to take steps to do so right away,” Education Secretary Betsy DeVos said in a conference call with reporters.
Among other steps, DeVos said she will chair a federal commission on school safety. President Trump is also urging Congress to pass legislation that will strengthen background checks and implement violence prevention programs. The Trump administration will provide technical assistance to states preparing temporary “risk protection orders” that allow for guns to be removed from certain individuals, and there will be a focus on mental health care, said Andrew Bremberg, a presidential assistant who heads the Domestic Policy Council.
The measures come during a reignited national gun control debate revived by survivors of last month’s massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, where 14 students and three staff were gunned down by a man with a semi-automatic rifle. “The administration will be working with states to provide rigorous firearms training to specifically qualified volunteer school personnel,” Bremberg said.
Lily Eskelsen Garcia, president of the National Education Association (NEA), the largest professional union in the United States, has said that parents and educators “overwhelmingly reject the idea of arming school staff.