DeVos won’t say whether state grant money can be used to buy guns for schools

DeVos won’t say whether state grant money can be used to buy guns for schools
© Greg Nash

Education Secretary Betsy DeVosElizabeth (Betsy) Dee DeVosOn The Money: Economy adds 266K jobs in strong November | Lawmakers sprint to avoid shutdown | Appropriators to hold crucial talks this weekend | Trump asks Supreme Court to halt Deutsche Bank subpoenas GOP set for all-out battle over Michigan Senate seat 'Can I get a ride?' Removing an obstacle for families using school choice MORE announced late Friday that her department will not take a position on whether states can use federal grant money to purchase firearms for school officials.

The announcement, which some experts say clears the way for states to spend money on guns, comes after a report earlier this week said DeVos was considering a plan to let states use funds to buy guns for schools.

DeVos wrote in a letter released by the Department of Education that she has "no intention of taking any action concerning the purchase of firearms or firearms training for school staff."

“I will not legislate via fiat from the Department,” DeVos wrote in the letter addressed to Rep. Bobby ScottRobert (Bobby) Cortez ScottOvernight Health Care: House to vote next week on drug prices bill | Conway says Trump trying to find 'balance' on youth vaping | US spent trillion on hospitals in 2018 House to vote next week on sweeping bill to lower drug prices Democrats press Trump officials over drop in ObamaCare signups amid website problems MORE (Va.), the top Democrat on the House Education and Workforce Committee.

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DeVos wrote that the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) "provides 'substantial flexibility' in how school districts use these funds to meet the purposes of the program."

"Therefore, I will not take any action that would expand or restrict the responsibilities and flexibilities granted to the State and local educational agencies by Congress," she added.

Experts told The Washington Post that DeVos's decision to not issue guidance on the issue in response to a request from several states is a signal that the funds can be used for purchasing firearms without action from Congress or the courts.

“If they are choosing not to issue the guidance, then that’s a signal to states that [states] could choose to approve those local requests,” Nora Gordon, a Georgetown public policy professor, told The Post.

The New York Times previously reported that DeVos was considering issuing guidance allowing states to use the funding for gun purchases or training for school officials.

President TrumpDonald John TrumpLawmakers prep ahead of impeachment hearing Democrats gear up for high-stakes Judiciary hearing Warren says she made almost M from legal work over past three decades MORE has repeatedly argued for arming teachers and other school officials, arguing that gun-free zones around schools contribute to poor security.

"If they go into a school, a gun-free zone is like target practice for these guys. They see that and that's what they want. Gun-free zones are very dangerous,” Trump said in February.