The federal government should not use taxpayer money to put guns in schools. There is no precedent for it, and education grants are commonly restricted from being used to purchase weapons.

The National Education Association is opposed to arming teachers. Legislators are opposed to it. Even the $50 million STOP School Violence Act, passed by the U.S. House of Representatives in March, explicitly forbids the money from being used to buy firearms.

So why is Education Secretary Betsy DeVos even entertaining the question? Because Texas officials asked if the money could be used to pay for a firearms program there. But she must answer with a resounding “No.”

At issue is a program known as the Student Support and Academic Enrichment grants, which — unlike other federal education grants — do not clearly forbid weapons purchases. Texas asked the U.S. Department of Education for clarification on what those grants can be used for, and it’s a fair question. And DeVos should not be castigated for simply considering a legitimate question from a grant recipient.

But her hesitation to respond quickly shows that she’s willing to consider it. Given her previous statement that guns in schools could protect children from “potential grizzlies,” it’s clear where her sympathies lie.

If she gives Texas the green light, then any state could use the money to arm teachers, which goes against broad federal policy and the wishes of educators across the country, not to mention common sense.

It seems obvious that the best thing for DeVos to do would be to tell Texas that the money should not be spent on guns, in line with precedent. Some, including U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., have argued that states should have flexibility to spend block grant money as they see fit. But restricting state officials from using the money to buy guns hardly ties their hands.

The loophole needs to be closed, and quickly.

Guns and schools don’t mix, and taxpayer money shouldn’t be used to endanger children. DeVos should make that clear.

Editorial by The Hartford Courant

Visit The Hartford Courant (Hartford, Conn.) at www.courant.com

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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