A Wyoming teacher knocked down claims by Donald Trump’s pick for education secretary — who argued that guns were necessary in schools to protect against bear attacks.
During her confirmation hearings on Tuesday, Betsy DeVos told Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT), who represented Sandy Hook families as a congressman, that regulation of firearms in schools should be left up to states and local government.
“I’d imagine (in Wyoming) there’s a gun in the school to protect from potential grizzlies,” DeVos told the lawmaker.
Her remarks were apparently based on an anecdote shared earlier Tuesday by Sen. Mike Enzi (R-WY), who told DeVos about wildlife fences used to keep bears and other animals from wandering onto school property in the state.
“No firearms in our schools!” Morrow told the website. “We do have bear spray but have never had a problem that would require using it.”
Bears have attacked students and teachers in recent years, but there have been no reports of such attacks on school grounds.
Several schools in Alaska were placed on lockdown after a reported bear attack in November, but police later determined an 18-year-old student had injured himself after encountering a grizzly and falling backwards in surprise.
A teacher in the same town, Seward, was injured in late October while walking his dog before dawn at the municipal airport.
Two hunters were injured by bears this fall in Wyoming, but neither incident took place near any schools.
Bear attacks in the U.S. are actually quite rare, according to Backpacker.
Most bear attacks, when they do occur, are generally limited to hikers and hunters in wilderness areas.
In Yellowstone National Park, where bear attacks are probably most frequent, the chances of being injured by a bear are about one in 2.1 million.
By contrast, 63 people were killed and 156 were wounded by guns in 201 school shootings between Jan. 1, 2013, and Oct. 31, 2016.
A growing body of evidence suggests pepper spay, and not guns, is a more effective self-defense strategy during close encounters with bears, which have a thick hide and skull.
One study, published in 2012, found that gun owners suffered the same injury rates during bear encounters regardless of whether they used their weapons or not.
That same study found that bear spray had a better success rate in a variety of situations than firearms.
— American Bridge (@American_Bridge) January 18, 2017