As a candidate for Congress, U.S. Rep. Chris Pappas mocked a Department of Education proposal to provide weapons and training to prevent incidents like Tuesday’s school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, dismissing it as ridiculous.
During a radio interview on Wednesday, Pappas was asked about the shooting at Robb Elementary School and the “Border Patrol agent who had a gun and went in and helped prevent more people from dying. Should there be security guards? Should there be armed teachers? Is the way to stop a gun with another gun?”
Pappas evaded the question and talked instead about “funding going into things like camera systems and locking doors.” He said schools in New Hampshire had conducted security reviews and acknowledged that “many have security on the premises or nearby, and that’s appropriate.”
What Pappas did not mention was the press conference he held during his first campaign for Congress denouncing a proposal to allow schools to use federal funds to fund firearms training for employees, including teachers, in the wake of mass shootings in 2019.
Pappas, who co-sponsored a resolution opposing the measure, mocked the proposal as “ridiculous.”
“I can’t think of a more ridiculous idea than what’s been pushed by the Trump administration and Betsy DeVos to use federal dollars to arm teachers,” Pappas said.
The Pappas-backed bill “was a direct rebuke to Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, who last year considered whether to allow states to use a program in the federal K-12 law to pay for firearms and training for school staff,” U.S. News reported, “a move prompted by an inquiry from education officials in Texas who wanted to do so.”
The shooter killed two teachers and 19 students.
The idea of encouraging school staff, including educators, to pursue the training to use weapons and provide security is not viewed as ridiculous by everyone. The Florida commission that investigated the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland recommended some teachers be allowed to carry firearms during the school day.
And at least six states have considered or implemented some form of the idea since 2019. And Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said Wednesday trained teachers and on-site staff should be part of the security mix.
“The reality is we don’t have the resources to have law enforcement at every school,” Paxton said. “It takes time for law enforcement, no matter how prepared or how good they are, to get there. Having the right training for some of these people at the school is the best hope. Nothing is going to work perfectly but that, in my opinion, is the best answer to this problem.”
And a new poll from Morning Consult found Americans support the idea of arming teachers and staff 54-35 percent.
Pappas said he supports a ban on the sale of AR-15 rifles and similar weapons, sometimes referred to as “assault weapons,” and he claimed on WGIR that “the United States was safer when we had an assault weapons ban in place.”
“There is no reason these weapons of war should be allowed on the streets,” Pappas said.
In fact, violent crime plunged during the decade after the ban expired in 2004 than during the ban itself. While it is true the number of mass shooting deaths increased, the reason for the surge in the number of mass shootings during the 21st century remains unclear.
Pappas’ support for a ban on the sales of America’s most popular rifles is of particular note in New Hampshire, whose workers manufactured more rifles than any other state in 2019. Another 2019 study ranked the Granite State as having the highest number of per capita jobs in the gun manufacturing industry, and the fourth-highest wages and benefits from the industry.
Pappas has declined repeated requests for comment.