Democrats move to block federal money to arm school teachers

A U.S. House spending panel is set to approve a 2020 funding bill on Wednesday which would block state and local governments from using federal education aid money to buy firearms for use by teachers, or to pay for weapons training of school personnel, moving to specifically order the Education Department to prevent such use of grants.

"The Committee notes there is no evidence to suggest that arming teachers would make schools safer," Democrats on the House Appropriations Committee wrote in a report to accompany a 2019 education funding bill. 

"Instead, there are serious concerns about the unintended consequences and negative impacts such a policy could have on the well-being and safety of students," the language adds.

The bill would place the firearms restrictions on a proposed $1.32 billion in 'Student Support and Academic Enrichment State Grants,' specifically stating that "Congress never intended for SSAE funds to be used to purchase firearms or for firearms training in schools."

The bill orders Education Secretary Betsy DeVos to issue official guidelines confirming that prohibition within 30 days.

House Democrats moved to include the language in the Education Department funding bill after DeVos said earlier this year that she did not have the power to restrict money going to states and local school districts from using it to buy firearms, or provide weapons training.

Democrats disputed that assertion, as a document emerged last month from inside the Education Department which showed Secretary DeVos did have the authority to block the use of education grant money to purchase firearms, or pay for weapons training for teachers.

The memo also indicated the education program money was never intended for those purposes.

"There is no evidence that Congress contemplated the use of Title IV, Part A funds for firearms or firearms training," the internal Education Department memo stated.

Democrats have also objected to a separate effort by the Trump Administration to explore the use of grant money for anti-terrorism measures through the Department of Homeland Security to fund the purchase of guns for teachers.

"Arming teachers is a recipe for disaster," said Rep. Val Demings (D-FL), who introduced a bill last week in the House to specifically block such a DHS grant plan, which she labeled 'reckless.'

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