EDITORIAL: DeVos flops in confirmation hearing
Education secretary nominee’s views on firearms shock public
The future of America seems to be looking even grimmer with each new choice of members for President Donald J. Trump's cabinet. Every member comes equipped with a track record of controversy, as well as a resume empty of relevant experience. And with the nomination of Betsy DeVos as Trump’s secretary of education, it seems as though the future of American schools is beginning to look a little frightening as well.
DeVos’s lack of qualification for her position became apparent through the rapid-fire questions posed to her by Democratic senators. When questioned about proficiency in schools and inquired about her stand on implementation of educational standards in public and charter schools, DeVos followed with stammering and confused answers. And when senators attempted to question DeVos's prior experience with financial aid and higher education management, she hesitantly admitted that she had none.
But this was not the worst of the exchange.
In a nation where there have been over 200 school shootings since 2013, but has a Second Amendment that guarantees a citizen’s right to bear arms, the topic of gun safety and regulation is a touchy one. But even more sensitive than that is the discussion of guns in school. When Democratic senators questioned DeVos about her stance on the issue, she responded by saying that the decision of keeping guns in schools should be up to individual states. When asked about which situations would warrant a state deciding that there was no other way for members of a school community to protect themselves other than the use of guns, DeVos referenced needing to protect students from potential grizzlies. Although this response has caused laughter and shock throughout the nation, it opens up an important conversation about guns and safety that deeply divides the nation.
It is difficult to determine the situational circumstances of areas you have not experienced living in, which may be why there are multiple disagreements between people in different regions within the United States. Living and attending school in New Jersey makes it difficult for one to empathize with someone living in Wyoming, where the issues of grizzlies are of actual concern. However, the issue at hand is not just what circumstances call for guns to be present in schools. In addition to thinking about allowing guns on school property, we must think about finding ways to better regulate them.
In America, where background checks are done only with in-store purchases and denials only occur 1 percent of the time, it would be completely irresponsible to assume that allowing guns on school property is a good idea. In fact, without proper regulation, the possession of guns in a school could lead to more safety concerns than those that exist already. If states want to be able to dictate the use of guns in school, then there needs to be a unanimous understanding that regulation on guns needs to be more strict than the currently existing regulations. The nation cannot throw caution to the wind with background checks and mental health checks for those who wish to carry firearms. The legislature cannot allow for just anyone to bring in a gun into an educational institution. With research from 2014 indicating that 68 percent of murders were committed using firearms, the rejection of more intense regulation on guns would be a crime in and of itself.
It is obvious that there are going to be many changes throughout this new presidency, and if any upcoming laws are backed by reason, the nation will gladly adapt. But when the issue of children’s safety in our nation’s schools is brought up, the best course of action for anyone, regardless of their party affiliation, is to do everything they can to ensure that the decision that is made has exhausted every safety precaution.
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