Betsy DeVos said her school safety commission won’t discuss gun violence, and um, what?

In the wake of the recent shootings at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and Santa Fe High School, the debate about how to make students safer has taken on a renewed sense of urgency. Yet despite discussions on how to curb gun violence in schools, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has said that the federal school safety commission — which was established as a direct response to the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High — will not focus on firearms…at all.

When Senator Patrick Leahy asked if the commission would examine the connection between firearms and gun violence, DeVos, who chairs the commission, said that is “not part of the commission’s charge per se.”

"I see," Leahy responded during the June 5th Senate hearing. "So you're studying gun violence but not considering the role of guns."

"We’re actually studying school safety and how we can ensure our students are safe at school," DeVos replied cryptically.

Leahy then asked DeVos if she felt 18-year-olds should be able to purchase AR-15s, to which DeVos retorted that it was “a matter up for debate.”

The commission was originally created in order to study issues like whether or not the legal age of purchase for firearms should be raised. For this reason, DeVos’s claim that studying guns is “not part of the commission’s charge” seems to conflict with the reason the commission was formed in the first place.

A department spokeswoman told Politico that the commission will continue to “look at all issues the President asked the committee to study.” In her statement, she also noted that the commission “cannot create or amend current gun laws.”

Both Trump and DeVos have supported the idea of arming teachers in schools. DeVos in particular was subjected to criticism after her confirmations hearing, when she said that guns would be useful in defending schools from grizzly bears.

DeVos’s comments about the commission are outrageous. We need to end gun violence in schools, and that means looking at the role guns play in these tragedies.

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