If elementary schools need guns to protect their students from grizzly bears, what do we get to protect ourselves from President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee for secretary of education, Betsy DeVos?
A grueling confirmation hearing Tuesday revealed troubling personal biases, a complete lack of foresight on education and a disturbing affinity for privatization of education, threatening any possibility of reducing a catastrophically wide achievement gap and racial disparities in our school system.
But one of the most alarming moments of the hearing came as U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Connecticut, redirected the conversation toward gun control. DeVos refused to outwardly support or reject allowing guns on school property, but revealed her stance when admitting she would support Trump if he chooses to follow through on a proposal to ban gun-free school zones.
But don’t worry – lucky for us, DeVos quickly assured Murphy, whose constituents buried 20 children in the wake of the Sandy Hook shooting, “my heart bleeds and is broken for those families that have lost any individual due to gun violence.”
Which is comforting, because her bleeding, broken heart is sure to do wonders for our gun violence epidemic.
DeVos now joins a club I like to call the “thoughts and prayers Republicans.” The “if only there was something we could do, other than draft concrete legislation” Republicans. The “my heart goes out to the victims, but my pen won’t be signing anything to make sure there are no more” Republicans.
I can imagine it would be difficult to be a parent sending your child off to school knowing the secretary of education either can’t, or doesn’t care to, decide whether or not guns deserve a place anywhere near 9-year-old children. So for her to then turn around and bemoan the unacceptably high rates of gun violence seems obsolete.
ASM petition looks to prevent concealed weapons on campusUniversity of Wisconsin students, faculty and administration are signing a petition they hope will signal to state legislators their disapproval Read…
Between 2013 and 2015, there were 210 school shootings in America. Even when there were no fatalities, or very few, the impact on students from any sort of shooting within the vicinity of a school is immense. Research found long-term effects on the community following high school shootings, including reduced school enrollment beginning in ninth grade and decreased test scores in math and English by close to 5 percent.
Thoughts have yet to do a damn thing for the 93 people who lose their lives to gun violence every single day, seven of whom are children. Prayers haven’t saved a single one of the 50 women shot to death by their partners, nor reduced a homicide rate that is 25 times that of comparable developed countries.
That we are spending time deciding whether or not a school should house a gun in the event of a grizzly bear attack, rather than restricting gun sales and requiring comprehensive background checks – including mental health evaluations – is nauseating. And to grant someone like DeVos, who seems to have no problem ignoring any of this, access to such a powerful platform threatens parents and students alike.
If all you have to offer is your broken heart, you have blood on your hands; wash them, and pick up a pen.
We’re still miles behind where we should be on gun legislation, but we sure as hell are not about to regress to the point of weighing the prohibition of gun-free school zones as a valid option — we can’t afford to. It’s a death wish, and I hope to God DeVos comes to that conclusion sooner rather than later.
My thoughts and prayers are with her.
Yusra Murad ([email protected]) is a junior studying psychology and business.