5 Things to Know About President Trump's Gun Reform Package for Schools, Mental Health, and the FBI
On Sunday, President Donald Trump revealed his multi-step plan for countering school shootings. Trump said he would back legislation in Congress, reform the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), set up a commission under Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, and more. Both Republicans and Democrats will find parts to support, and parts to attack vehemently.
"Today we are announcing meaningful actions, steps that can be taken right away to help protect students," DeVos said on Sunday. "Far too often the focus has been only on the most contentious fights — the things that have divided people and sent them into their entrenched corners."
The secretary insisted that Trump's new plan involves much-needed action and does not get bogged down in ideological fights. "The plan that we're going to advance and talk about is a pragmatic plan to dramatically increase school safety and to take steps to do so right away."
Below are five key aspects of Trump's plan.
1. "Hardening our schools."
The White House proposal called for "hardening our schools" through voluntary steps to make them less vulnerable to attack. Trump suggested training and arming teachers and other school personnel, and setting up airport-style security measures.
The blueprint called for instituting security procedures like those at airports, sports stadiums, and government buildings. It suggested using Justice Department (DOJ) grants to train and vet school personnel to carry firearms "on a voluntary basis," the Wall Street Journal's Michael C. Bender reported.
The White House announced that the administration will partner with states to promote "rigorous" firearms training for "specially qualified" school personnel, teaming with the DOJ to facilitate instruction. The administration also plans to support the transition of military veterans and retired law enforcement into new education careers, CNN reported.
"If schools are mandated to be gun free zones, violence and danger are given an open invitation to enter," Trump himself tweeted Monday morning. "Almost all school shootings are in gun free zones. Cowards will only go where there is no deterrent!"
These policies echoed Trump's speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) last month. In that speech, the president suggested arming gun-adept teachers and staff (vetted to make sure they care for students) and having them conceal and carry weapons, so potential shooters would not know which staff would pose a threat to their attack.
These policies inspired backlash from teachers' unions and Democrats, but Trump's plan for guns in schools has many virtues.