When Education Secretary Betsy DeVos testified Tuesday before the Senate Appropriations Committee, it provided an opportunity to anti-gunners on Capitol Hill and in the media to show their priority is gun control, as revealed by coverage of her appearance that focuses on guns.
For example, CBS coverage emphasized that, “The federal school safety commission set up after the deadly shooting at a Florida high school will not examine the role of guns in school violence.”
Likewise, the New York Times seems to lament that a federal school safety commission “will not focus on the role guns play in school violence.”
Politico quoted John Feinblatt, president of anti-gun billionaire Michael Bloomberg’s Everytown for Gun Safety, who complained, “The Trump administration is far more concerned with securing NRA support than addressing the root causes of gun violence–namely, our lax gun laws.”
But haven’t gun control groups supported passage of these so-called “lax gun laws?” And haven’t these groups repeatedly pushed for stronger laws when the laws they just supported turn out to be failures?
DeVos told the Senate panel that “the role of guns in school safety was not a focus” of the commission. The focus is “school safety and how we can ensure our students are safe at school,” she said. That can cover a lot of ground, including bullying and ostracizing.
CBS News reported that DeVos’ spokeswoman Liz Hill later clarified that “the commission will look at all the issues the president asked it to study.”
“It’s important to note that the commission cannot create or amend current gun laws — that is the Congress’ job,” Hill said.
Guns are part of the equation. So far, there have been recommendations about prohibiting sales of so-called “assault rifles” and original capacity magazines to young adults ages 18-20. There are efforts to heavily-regulate such firearms in Washington and ban them outright in neighboring Oregon.
DeVos told “60 Minutes” earlier this year that among various options worthy of consideration, arming teachers is one possible solution. That’s a strategy overwhelmingly opposed by gun prohibition lobbying groups.
According to the New York Times, “Bob Farrace, a spokesman for the National Association of Secondary School Principals, said, ‘If the commission won’t address the role of guns in school violence, we hope that means it also won’t recommend a proliferation of guns in schools — arming teachers, eliminating gun-free school zones and other ill-advised proposals that will make schools less safe.’”
Gun-free zones have demonstrably failed to protect students. Sandy Hook and Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School are prime examples of that failure, say proponents of a policy change. There’s an effort to change the law in North Carolina, and an initiative to change the law in Washington State.
And the debate will continue, regardless what DeVos told the Senate panel. That’s because the debate really is about guns, and now thanks to the media coverage of Tuesday’s testimony, everybody knows it.