Betsy DeVos is forming a committee to study why kids keep getting shot in US schools

A multifaceted issue, the White House says.
A multifaceted issue, the White House says.
Image: Reuters/Joshua Roberts
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Nearly a month after the shooting at a Parkland, Florida, high school that killed 17, the White House unveiled a plan on gun safety that focuses on arming teachers, providing more government for mental health programs, and increased background checks, while leaving to the states most of the responsibility for stronger gun laws.

Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos said Sunday that she is also starting a committee to study what a White House official called the “multifaceted and multi-solution issue” of American children getting shot in schools. The White House’s response is likely to be a disappointment to gun safety advocates, who have been encouraging the ban of assault weapons, and a federal law to raise the age limit required to buy a gun.

The White House’s priorities, according to a fact sheet circulated to reporters Sunday, include:

1. Hardening our schools. The Department of Justice will fund programs to train school personnel to use firearms. The administration is also going to encourage military veterans and retired police officers to become teachers.

2. Strengthening background checks and prevention. The president supports the “Fix NICs” bill sponsored by Senators John Cornyn and Chris Murphy, which punishes federal agencies that don’t report information about military and other federal employees to a national gun database. Trump also supports the “Stop Violence Act,” which would provide federal funding to “crisis intervention teams” in schools and other programs, and will audit and improve the FBI tip line, the White House said.

3. Mental health reform. The president proposes integrating and reviewing mental health and family services programs, including a review of privacy protections for students.

4. A commission to study school violence. The commission, chaired by DeVos, would study age limits for gun purchases, and the idea of repealing the Obama Administration’s “Rethink School Discipline” policies, which encouraged educators to consider alternatives to detention and expulsion, among other things.

Other nations have far fewer mass shootings than the United States. When they have happened, countries such as Australia and Germany have passed strict gun laws to prevent them from happening again. As Quartz reported earlier, countries with fewer guns have lower homicide rates, lower firearm death rates, and fewer mass shootings: