BOSTON (CBS) – “This has been going on too long in our country,” said President Trump after the Parkland, Florida high school massacre in February.

And his vow to find solutions to the never-ending plague of school shootings led to the formation of a new School Safety Commission headed by Education Secretary Betsy DeVos.

But when the commission held its first public listening session Wednesday, DeVos wasn’t there. Instead, she was in Europe on other business, according to her office, a day after her eyebrow-raising testimony at a congressional hearing.

Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont) asked DeVos: “Will your commission look at the role of firearms as it relates to gun violence in our schools?”

“That is not part of the commission’s charge per se,” she answered.

Betsy DeVos (WBZ-TV)

“So you’re studying gun violence but not considering the role of guns?” said in incredulous Leahy.

“We’re actually studying school safety and how we can ensure our students are safe,” she replied.

Leahy persisted. “Do you believe an 18-year-old high school student should be able to walk into a store and minutes later come out with an AR-15 style assault weapon and hundreds of rounds of ammunition?”

DeVos: “I believe that’s very much a matter for debate.”

Instead, she explained, the commission wants to focus on things like violent video games and online bullying. But, when Leahy asked her if she was looking at other countries where students are neck-deep in social media and video games but school shootings are rare, she gave a familiar answer:

“Not per se.”

The commission recommendations are due by the end of the year. But it’s clear there is little chance they’ll include ideas on keeping guns away from kids.

That continues a long Washington tradition of talking about school violence, but doing next to nothing about it.


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