The administration of U.S. President Donald Trump says it will increase aid to states that want to arm school employees following last month’s massacre of 17 people at a high school in Florida.
U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos said Sunday that arming school staff is part of a "pragmatic plan to dramatically increase school safety.”
“We are committed to working quickly because there's no time to waste," DeVos said in a conference call with reporters.
Trump proposed last month to arm teachers to deter school shootings, a controversial idea that has drawn little support from educators, including the National Education Association, the country’s largest teachers lobby.
The White House is establishing a Federal Commission on School Safety, to be chaired by DeVos, that will explore possible solutions to school shootings.
The Trump administration will also provide technical assistance to states preparing temporary "risk protection orders" that allow for guns to be removed from certain individuals, said Andrew Bremberg, a presidential assistant who heads the Domestic Policy Council at the White House.
The White House is urging Congress to pass legislation that will strengthen background checks for gun buyers and implement violence prevention programs.
The United States loses around 33,000 people to gun violence every year.
The new measures come during a reignited national debate on gun violence that was revived by survivors of last month's massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, where a former student with a semi-automatic rifle gunned down 14 students and three staff.
Many of the student survivors have urged Congress to toughen restrictions on gun purchases, but such measures are fiercely opposed by the National Rifle Association (NRA), the nation’s powerful gun lobby.
On Friday, Florida Governor Rick Scott signed into law a gun control bill that was passed by the state’s legislature. The new law raises the minimum age to purchase a firearm from 18 to 21 and extends the waiting period to three days, a dramatic turnaround in one of the most gun-friendly states in America.
The NRA immediately filed a lawsuit at a US federal court in Florida after the gun control bill was signed into law, arguing that it violates the U.S. Constitution.
The NRA has become the focus of a growing movement by activists who are demanding that U.S. politicians stop accepting political donations from the gun lobby.
Trump was endorsed by the NRA in his 2016 presidential election campaign. The president and his fellow Republicans in Congress strongly support Americans’ constitutional right to own guns.
This article has been adapted from its original source.
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