Civil rights and gun control watchdogs are preparing to sue the U.S. Department of Education over a controversial proposal that’d allow schools to use federal funding to arm teachers.
“Our complaint will seek a declaration that allowing these federal funds to be spent on guns instead of activities meant to make schools feel safe is unlawful, as well as an order from the court enjoining the Department of Education from approving such funds,” said chief counsel Adam Skaggs of the Giffords Law Center.
The Law Center, writes Newsweek¸ was founded by Democratic Congresswoman Gabriella Giffords.
Giffords, an Arizona representative, survived an assassination attempt in 2011. The would-be killer shot her in the head at close range, wounding Giffords and murdering six others.
Along with Giffords Law Center, the American Federation of Teachers, Southern Poverty Law Center and Democracy Forward have all threatened to launch lawsuits if Education Secretary Betsy DeVos lets the proposal move forward.
“We are extraordinary concerned with this dangerous, and what we believe to be unlawful, proposal under consideration to supply teachers with federal funds to buy guns for their classrooms, instead of books and school supplies,” Skaggs said.
Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) tried to block the measure by filing an ‘emergency’ amendment as part of a massive military spending bill. While dozens of other amendments were successfully passed, Murphy’s failed to be considered.
The senator, whose district includes the site of the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, said DeVos “cares more about the firearm industry’s bottom line than the safety of our kids, and that should scare parents to death.”
According to NBC News, Secretary DeVos begin deliberations on the issue earlier in 2018. She was prompted to action by pleas from Texas and Oklahoma officials interested in procuring firearms for teachers and other school staff.
Both states are hoping to obtain funds via the Student Support and Academic Enrichment grants, which fall under Title IV’s purview.
While DeVos has yet to reach any conclusion, the Education Department told NBC that “no decision is imminent.”
Skaggs suggested that consideration was hardly necessary, noting that “nowhere in federal law has Congress authorized the use of education funds for the purchase of guns or to arm teachers.”
He added that existing law favors keeping firearms as far away from schools as possible. Citing the Gun-Free School Zones Act of 1990, which prevents unauthorized individuals from brining loaded or unloaded firearms onto school property, the attorney says “makes it clear” that “guns are disfavored in the education environment.”