Following Reports That Trump Administration Wants to Arm Public School Teachers, Giffords Law Center, American Federation of Teachers, Southern Poverty Law Center and Democracy Forward Issue Following Statement on the Dangerous and Potential Illegal Policy Proposal That the Gun Lobby Has Pushed For Years



Adam Skaggs, Chief Counsel, Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence:

“It is outrageous to think of using federal funds to buy guns for teachers at a time when underfunded schools can’t even afford school supplies.  Everyone agrees that our schools should be safe, welcoming environments, but having educators do double duty as sharp shooters won’t make anyone safer.  The American public deserves to understand how Betsy DeVos’s education department cooked up this horrific idea, and we’re proud to work with SPLC and AFT to demand answers.  We will fight this unlawful proposal to spend taxpayer dollars on guns for our kids’ classrooms every step of the way.”

Randi Weingarten, President, American Federation of Teachers:

“We knew Betsy DeVos wanted to gut and privatize public education, but her decision to consider turning the federal government into an arms dealer for schools goes far beyond the recklessness we thought she was capable of. Flooding schools with guns will make kids and teachers less, not more, safe. And it’s doubly disturbing that DeVos is taking away resources from programs for poor kids—programs we have fought for because they promote safe and welcoming environments, like guidance counselors and mental health services—to do the bidding of the National Rifle Association and gun manufacturers. With her plan exposed, we must now reveal what communications DeVos had with the NRA to advance its agenda and find out why the secretary decided to elevate the interests of the gun lobby above her sworn duty to protect children, parents and educators.”

Zoe Savitsky, Deputy Legal Director, Southern Poverty Law Center:

“In the aftermath of tragedies such as the Parkland shooting, students and educators looked for solutions to ensure that our nation’s public schools are safe and inclusive environments for all. But what Secretary DeVos’ Department of Education is proposing is not rooted in research or best practices. Directly funding more firearms in schools will not make them any safer, nor foster a system of safe learning. In order to learn, students need books and soccer balls, not bullets or bulletproof vests. Instead, schools should be investing in strategies that work, like mental health services and crisis coordination. Students, families, and educators deserve to know how the Department arrived at this reckless approach, and why Secretary DeVos is not providing real leadership on school safety.”

Corey Ciorciari , Democracy Forward Policy and Strategy Director:

“Secretary DeVos’s proposal is not only flatly absurd, but is likely illegal. Congress mandated that federal monies be used to advance student learning not purchase weaponry for teachers. We are requesting that the Secretary of Education reveal the gun lobby’s role in pushing this policy, and suggest that she do her homework on the matter before further carrying water for the NRA.”


Background: On August 22, 2018, The New York Times reported that Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos is considering whether to allow states to use federal funds to arm school teachers with guns. Today, three organizations dedicated to gun safety and safe, welcoming, and inclusive educational environments filed public records requests demanding documents related to a proposal by the U.S. Department of Education to allow federal funds to be used to pay for guns carried by public school teachers.  The document requests under the Freedom of Information Act, were prepared and filed by the Democracy Forward Foundation on behalf of three organizations: Giffords Law Center, one of the nation’s leading policy organizations dedicated to preventing gun violence; the Southern Poverty Law Center, a nonprofit legal advocacy organization dedicated to fighting hate and bigotry and to seeking justice for the most vulnerable members of our society, including on behalf of the nation’s schoolchildren; and the American Federation of Teachers, the largest union of American educators which represents 1.7 million members in more than 3,000 local affiliates nationwide.

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