Betsy DeVos: School safety commission won’t focus on guns

Betsy DeVos

WASHINGTON — Education Secretary Betsy DeVos said Tuesday that looking at the role of guns in school safety was not a focus of the Federal Commission on School Safety.

“That is not part of the commission’s charge, per se,” DeVos said Tuesday during a Senate Appropriations subcommittee hearing in response to a question from Vermont Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy about whether the commission would look at the role of firearms.

DeVos said that the commission’s focus is “school safety and how we can ensure our students are safe at school.”

DeVos chairs the Federal Commission on School Safety, which was formed after the February shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida that left 17 people dead. The panel also includes the heads of the departments of Health and Human Services, Homeland Security and the attorney general.

When the commission was established, one of the areas of focus outlined in a White House statement was “age restrictions for certain firearm purchases.”

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DeVos has said the commission will report its findings by year’s end, but some critics have said the commission needs to act with more urgency.

The commission recently held its first field hearing, in which DeVos and representatives from the other involved agencies toured a Maryland elementary school that focuses on positive behavioral intervention, which focuses on mentoring and counseling as opposed to punitive discipline practices.

Potential changes to the nation’s gun laws were not discussed at that meeting.

On Wednesday, the commission is scheduled to hold its first public listening session at the Department of Education’s headquarters.

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