â€śAn interesting concept.â€ť That was the wry observation by Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., to the disclosure that the federal commission on school safety established in response to the Parkland, Florida, high school massacre will study gun violence without actually looking at guns.
Other words come to mind. Daft. Misguided. Irresponsible. And - given this administrationâ€™s cowardly deference to the national gun lobby - unsurprising.
Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, chair of the panel convened by President Donald Trump after 17 students and staff were gunned down Feb. 14 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, told an incredulous Senate subcommittee on Tuesday that guns were outside the commissionâ€™s purview. Never mind that the alleged 19-year-old Parkland gunman used a military-style assault weapon and that there have been at least 17 school shootings this year. Even Trump didnâ€™t seem to think discussion of guns would be off the table, given that the White House news release describing the commissionâ€™s work said an area of focus would be looking at â€śage restrictions for certain firearm purchases.â€ť
Arguing that it is Congressâ€™ job to create or amend gun laws, DeVos said the commission will instead focus its research on the â€śculture of violence,â€ť its potential sources and possible solutions. Issues such as mental-health resources and student discipline practices are clearly worthy of examination; good that the commission wants to cast a wide net. But to do so while ignoring the central role that guns play in school shootings makes a mockery of the commission and its promise to make schools safer.
The commission now says it plans to look at age limits and legal procedures to remove guns from people deemed dangerous to themselves or others. Thatâ€™s better, but not enough. DeVos would do well to listen to the students she is supposed to serve who, in the wake of the Parkland shooting, have mobilized a potent movement for school safety that includes looking at the obvious - and doing something about guns.
-The Washington Post