The White House released its school safety plan on Sunday, and surprise! Arming teachers is in and raising the minimum wage for buying an assault weapon is out. It’s almost like the plan all along was to do nothing that might strengthen gun laws and instead to find a way to spread guns even more. But don’t worry—the teachers will get “rigorous firearms training,” says the administration that can’t properly vet its own top aides. And to put the cherry on top, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos is going to be involved at a high level, chairing a Federal Commission on School Safety. Because what this moment and this issue need is someone expert at enraging students and teachers alike and drawing national mockery. She’ll be in charge of completing the backtracking on age limits, among other things:
“Now, this is not a popular thing to say, in terms of the NRA. But I’m saying it anyway,” Trump said in a Feb. 28 meeting with lawmakers. “You can buy a handgun — you can’t buy one; you have to wait until you’re 21. But you can buy the kind of weapon used in the school shooting at 18. I think it’s something you have to think about.”But the White House plan released Sunday does not address the minimum age for gun purchases. Pressed by reporters about the apparent backtracking, a senior administration official said the age issue was “a state-based discussion right now” and would be explored by DeVos’s commission.
The only real move Trump’s plan makes on guns is to include the bipartisan “Fix NICS” provision to strengthen the federal background check system so that people who shouldn’t pass background checks are less likely to slip through the cracks. And if you don’t believe this whole plan is intentionally toothless, check this out:
At a political rally Saturday night in Pennsylvania, Trump mocked the idea of commissions to solve the nation’s drug epidemic. “Do you think the drug dealers who kill thousands of people during their lifetime, do you think they care who’s on a blue-ribbon committee?” Trump said. “The only way to solve the drug problem is through toughness.”
Administration officials demurred Sunday night when asked why Trump found commissions an inadequate response to the drug epidemic but an appropriate way to respond to gun massacres.
“There are not going to be one-size-fits-all approaches and solutions, and I think that that is a very cogent argument for having a commission,” said a senior administration official, who would answer questions from reporters only on the condition of anonymity.
“There isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach” is not in fact a cogent argument. It’s a cliche. A cogent argument would explain why the opioid epidemic and mass shootings needed such very different approaches. Maybe it’s partly because in Betsy DeVos, Trump is sure he’s found someone who won’t propose any inconvenient solutions like actually strengthening gun laws.
Oh, and violent video games. Obviously DeVos’s big blue ribbon panel will be trying to push the blame for shootings onto violent video games.