Protestors speaking out against Betsy DeVos and the NRA.

Photo credit: SeaRick1 / Shutterstock

The Federal Commission on School Safety, which was established in response to the Parkland shooting, will not analyze the connection between firearms and school shootings.

On Tuesday, June 5, Democratic Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy asked U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos if the commission would “look at the role of firearms as it relates to gun violence in our schools.”

“That is not part of the commission’s charge, per se,” DeVos finally confessed, after previously trying to skirt the question.

Civics Lesson: U.S. Secretary of Education Roles and Responsibilities

A photo of Betsy DeVos.The U.S. Secretary of Education has five main responsibilities: advise the U.S. president, review the current curriculum and implement changes when necessary, protect students’ civil rights, lead research and evaluation efforts, and manage sub-departments.


In March 2018, President Trump put U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos in charge of the Federal Commission on School Safety. Other commission members include Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar, and Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen.

Photo: U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos at the 2017 Conservative Political Action Conference. Photo credit: Gage Skidmore 

“So you’re studying gun violence but not considering the role of guns?” Leahy queried.

“We’re actually studying school safety and how we can ensure our students are safe at school,” DeVos replied.

According to the U.S. Department of Education’s website, the Federal Commission on School Safety is charged with providing “meaningful and actionable recommendations to keep students safe at school.” One of those recommendations includes a “discussion on minimum age for firearms purchases.”

“Do you believe an 18-year-old high school student should be able to walk into a store and minutes later come out with an AR-15-style assault weapon and hundreds of rounds of ammunition?” Leahy asked DeVos.

“I believe that’s very much a matter for debate, and I know that’s been debated within this body and will continue to be,” DeVos indirectly responded. “Our focus is on raising up successful, proven techniques and approaches to ensuring schools are safe for students to attend.”

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