President Trump’s Federal Commission on School Safety will reportedly oppose new age restrictions on buying firearms, according to The Washington Post.
The commission, which was created after a school shooting massacre in Parkland, Florida, found no evidence proving these restrictions make school shootings less likely. It didn’t conduct its own study, and instead used existing evidence in reaching this conclusion, a source told the Post.
The group — whose four members include Department of Education (ED) Secretary Betsy DeVos, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar and Secretary of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen – will release a report on its findings by the end of the year, the Post reported. It will likely suggest that states have more safety trainings for gun owners.
When the commission was established in March, the White House said the one gun-related policy it would examine and issue recommendations for was age restrictions for firearm purchases. DeVos has said from the start that the commission would not focus on the role of guns in school safety, and discussions mainly centered on topics including mental health, school infrastructure, violence in the media and school resource officers. There was also talk of ways to “harden” schools through arming teachers, which the commission will likely support through an outlined series of best practices, the Post said.
The administration’s views on gun control policies have seemed to flip-flop, especially in recent months. In February, Trump tweeted that he wanted to raise the age of gun possession to 21. Days afterward, he backed away from the idea, saying there was “not much political support.” DeVos has come under fire as well — ED was reportedly weighing a plan that would allow schools to use funds under the Every Student Succeeds Act to buy guns for teachers. She later said she had “no intention of taking any action” on the issue.
Federal law says a licensed dealer can’t sell a handgun to anyone under 21, but can sell rifles and shotguns — including the AR-15 semiautomatic weapon that’s been used in several recent school shootings — to anyone who is at least 18. Some states have taken recent action in upping gun laws, including Florida, which raised its minimum age to buy a firearm to 21. Connecticut, where a 2012 shooting killed 20 elementary school children and six adults, banned bump stocks, which make semi-automatic weapons fire faster.
Since the Parkland shooting, teachers have taken a stand to share their voices on how to ensure school safety in the future. Some, including the American Federation of Teachers, the American Association of School Administrators and the National Education Association, have joined gun control policy movements. Others are speaking up about why arming teachers can protect schools from acts of violence. While it’s unclear what policies will be enacted, or what new regulations will go into effect, it’s clear that stakeholders of all political views agree that policy changes are needed.