.@SenatorLeahy: "Will your commission look at the role of fire arms as it relates to gun violence in our schools?"@BetsyDeVosED: “That is not part of the commission’s charge, per sey.”— CSPAN (@cspan) June 5, 2018
Sen. Leahy: "I see…So, you're studying gun violence but not considering the role of guns." pic.twitter.com/vKMnMaduuf
The tragic school shooting in Parkland, Florida, on Valentine’s Day promoted the formation of the Federal Commission on School Safety, chaired by Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, in order to provide a safer environment for students, specifically preventing another incident of school shooting.
However, testifying before the Senate appropriations subcommittee, DeVos said the commission will not look at the role of guns is spite of the growing pandemic of school shootings.
When asked by Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) on whether the commission will “look at the role of fire arms as it relates to gun violence in our schools,” DeVos replied, “That is not part of the commission’s charge, per se.”
The particular response seemed to have baffled Leahy who said it was interesting that gun violence was being studied without looking at the role of guns.
Leahy then proceeded to ask if an 18-year-old should be allowed to buy an AR-15 and rounds of ammunition. DeVos again provided the subcommittee with a vague answer.
“I believe that’s very much a matter for debate, and I know that’s been debated within this body and will continue to be,” DeVos replied. “Our focus is on raising up successful proven techniques and approaches to ensuring schools are safe for students to attend.”
However, in a press release in March, the White House stated the commission will make recommendations on various safety issues including “age restrictions for certain firearm purchases.”
Huff Post reached out to the Education Department to see if they still planned to make recommendations on the said topics.
“It is one of the 27 items to be addressed by the report,” replied department spokeswoman Elizabeth Hill, in an email. However, she also said “the commission cannot create or amend current gun laws — that is the Congress’ job.”
During the hearing, Leahy also questioned DeVos if the commission is going to be studying other countries where students play just as much videogames as American students and have the same usage of social media, yet the gun violence rate in those countries in much lower. DeVos initially tried to deviate from the question, but, on persistence by Leahy to answer, later admitted the commission had no such plans.
The question possibly stems from President Donald Trump and Republicans’ views that violent video games are the reason for school shootings and not guns.
TRUMP on the internet & video games: "We have to look at the internet b/c a lot of bad things are happening to young kids & young minds, and their minds are being fooled...more & more ppl saying that the level of violence in video games is really shaping young people's thoughts" pic.twitter.com/PHoQRru4GZ— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) February 22, 2018
In the end, Leahy termed ignoring the role of guns while studying gun control, “an interesting concept.”
Thumbnail/ Banner Credits: REUTERS/Leah Millis