Education Secretary Betsy DeVos is mulling a plan that would allow states to use federal funds to purchase guns for teachers, The New York Times reports, citing multiple people with knowledge of the plan.
The plan would overturn the longstanding federal government policy of not paying for weapons in schools and would make use of a government program that makes no mention of providing firearms to teachers. That program, the Student Support and Academic Enrichment Program, is designed to increase access to education, improve conditions for learning and bolster digital literacy, according to a government website.
The Education Department would characterize the new plan as improving conditions for learning, basing that assessment on research it has conducted, the Times wrote.
DeVos could approve grant funding under the program to provide states or districts with funds for firearms. Congress passed a school safety bill in March that prohibited funding "for the provision to any person of a firearm or training in the use of a firearm." It could block the plan, but it would be required to clarify the language of the student support program or pass new legislation, according to the report.
A spokesperson for the department declined to confirm the report but said the agency is "constantly considering and evaluating policy issues, particularly issues related to school safety."
President Donald Trump has expressed his support for arming teachers. In February, following the deadly school shooting in Parkland, Florida, the president tweeted that armed teachers "love our students and will protect them."
DeVos said in March that arming teachers "should be an option for states and communities to consider" but noted that it should only be an option for those who are "capable."
Reports of the plan sparked outrage among teacher groups and opponents of gun violence.
"Betsy DeVos wants to turn schools into armed fortresses and make kids and educators less safe," Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, said in a statement. "Betsy DeVos wants to turn the U.S. government into an arms dealer for schools. That's insane."
In a statement, John Feinblatt, president of Everytown for Gun Safety, called the plans "outrageous."
"America's teachers are already forced to spend their own meager salaries on basic school supplies, but the Trump Administration would rather use taxpayer money to buy them guns," Feinblatt said. "The solution to school shootings isn't putting loaded guns in the hands of teachers — it's passing laws that will keep guns away from people who have dangerous histories."