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Groups Sue DOE over Issues Pertaining to Federal Funding for Guns in Schools

By: Robert Davis

Three anti-gun organizations are teaming up to sue the Department of Education (DOE) over information regarding the use of federal funds to buy firearms for schools.

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos announced in late August she would not restrict schools from using federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) grant money to arm teachers.

“Let me be clear: I have no intention of taking any action concerning the purchase of firearms or firearms training for school staff under the ESEA,” DeVos wrote in a letter. “…Congress did not authorize me or the Department to make those decisions. As I have stated publicly on numerous occasions since I was nominated for this position, I will not legislate via fiat from the Department.”

Now, the Huffington Post reports, “The American Federation of Teachers, the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence say the Department of Education is violating federal law by not releasing records related to the decision in a timely manner.”

The lawsuit alleges the DOE did not comply with the groups’ Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA) request in a timely manner, as required by the law. An excerpt from the lawsuit says:

“The information sought by Plaintiffs’ FOIA requests, which will shed light on whether lobbyists associated with the firearms industry or gun-lobby groups including the National Rifle Association were involved in the Department’s decision and reveal communications between the Department and states or local school districts and within the Department concerning the use of these funds to arm teachers, is plainly of great public importance.”

Allowing CCW Permit Holders to Carry
Laura Carno, executive director of FASTER (Faculty/Administrator Safety Training and Emergency Response) Colorado and founder of Coloradoans for Civil Liberties, says there are already enough armed citizens to warrant federal funding for firearms unnecessary.

“There are plenty of people who are already concealed carry certified, and state laws stop them from being holders at work,” Carno told Gunpowder Magazine. “There is a much bigger need for training dollars, however.”

There were three bills introduced during the Colorado General Assembly’s 2018 regular session that would have allowed concealed carriers to bring their weapons onto K-12 campuses. None of them passed.

“It’s unfortunate sheriffs know they can’t always be there in time when something tragic like Parkland happens. I hear it all the time; they need help from the public,” Carno said.

FASTER Colorado offers “free or low-cost training for school staff who are armed first responders on their K-12 campus,” according to the group’s website.

Tuition for the three-day seminar is $1,000 and includes a complete trauma kit for the participants to take back to their school, church, or home. All participants are taught the same life-saving techniques used by law enforcement. Eighty percent of schools participating in FASTER training are on full-ride scholarships made possible by private donations, Carno said.

CCW Permit Holders Abound
Even with life-saving education at hand, some anti-gun advocates insist the presence of a gun will make schools more prison-like and scary for kids.

Others argue that students keeping their lives enhances the education a school can provide.

“Youths are around concealed guns all of the time and they don’t notice it,” Dave Kopel, an advanced constitutional law professor at Denver University’s Strum College of Law, told Gunpowder Magazine. “Around the country, there are people in shopping malls or at fast food restaurants who are licensed, trained adults carrying firearms, and none of these places offer a prison environment.”

Parents and school boards are in charge of deciding how safe their children’s schools are.

“That’s a challenge every school faces, having a diversity of opinion among parents about what books are taught in class, or study time, etc.,” Kopel said. “Ultimately, some choose to increase the chance their student won’t come home alive at the end of the day.”

Robert Davis is a general assignment reporter for Gunpowder Magazine. Contact him with comments or tips at RobertDavis0414@gmail.com.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Gunpowder Magazine.