U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos said the Federal Commission on School Safety —established in response to the deadly Parkland shooting — won’t look into the role of guns in school shootings.
The revelation came during a Senate subcommittee hearing on Tuesday about the Education Department’s budget.
“That is not part of the commission’s charge, per se,” DeVos said when asked by Democratic Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy whether the commission will “look at the role of firearms as it relates to gun violence in our schools.”
The commission was established by President Donald Trump in March “to address school safety and the culture of violence.”
“So you’re studying gun violence but not considering the role of guns?” Leahy asked DeVos again.
“We’re actually studying school safety and how we can ensure our students are safe at school,” DeVos said.
That appears to be a change since the commission was established and tasked with studying “age restrictions for certain firearm purchases,” among other issues.
DeVos, who serves as chair of the commission, also side-stepped a question about whether she thinks an 18-year-old high school student should be able to buy an AR-15 rifle, the type of weapon allegedly used during the Parkland shooting by a 19-year-old former student of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. The suspect, Nikolas Cruz, legally purchased the weapon after he turned 18.
“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 said. “Our focus is on raising up successful, proven techniques and approaches to ensuring schools are safe for students to attend.”
The commission plans to hold a public listening session at the Education Department on Wednesday.