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Betsy DeVos said there’s probably a gun at a Wyoming school to ward off grizzlies. There isn’t.

Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) has a tense exchange with Betsy DeVos, the nominee for education secretary, about guns in schools. (Video: Reuters)

In a hearing that approached disaster many times, nothing education secretary nominee Betsy DeVos told Congress has been mocked quite as much as her comments on guns and grizzly bears.

“You can’t say definitively, today, that guns shouldn’t be in schools?” asked a very skeptical Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn).

DeVos couldn’t. The answer she gave instead provoked mystification and mockery across Twitter.

Actually, Betsy DeVos, guns are a pretty lousy way to ward off grizzlies

She cited comments made earlier in the hearing by Sen. Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.).

“He was talking about Wapiti, Wyoming,” DeVos said. “I would imagine that there’s probably a gun in the school to protect from potential grizzlies.”

Say what?

Enzi’s speech that day had ranged across everything from the movie “Hidden Figures” to “women in the workplace in NASA.” But the Republican senator hadn’t mentioned Wapiti or grizzlies — much less the town’s small elementary school arming itself against bears.

Nor does it. Guns are banned from every public school in Wyoming, per state law.

“We don’t carry weapons on school property,” said Ray Schulte, superintendent of the Park County School District 6.

Next door to Yellowstone National Park, Wapiti School does in fact sit in “the heart of grizzly bear country,” Schulte noted.

A grizzly-proof fence went up around its playground several years ago to stop bears from wandering through. And like DeVos, Schulte would prefer if local school boards could set their own weapons policies — “as protection against whatever,” he said.

But they can’t. And there’s definitely no anti-grizzly gun on the Wapiti campus.

Six astonishing things Betsy DeVos said — and refused to say — at her confirmation hearing

So what did DeVos mean? Enzi’s office wasn’t sure either.

DeVos had met with the senator in his office before the hearing, according to Enzi’s spokesman.

He said Enzi told DeVos about Wapiti’s bear fence during the meeting — but “it wasn’t in the context of guns.”

In any event, the school’s gun-free, grizzly-proof playground is in line with the best advice of bear experts.

An estimated 700-plus grizzlies roam the Yellowstone area that skirts the school, according to the National Park Service.

They weigh up to 700 pounds each, move as fast as your typical bus, and they’re aggressive. Yet the Park Service estimates the chances of being hurt by one at one in 2.7 million.

The best known methods of reducing those odds are fences and bear spray, not guns, notes The Washington Post’s Karin Brulliard.

Read more about grizzly bears:

‘I thought this was the end’: Montana man tells of 2 ferocious battles with same grizzly bear

The only cub of America’s most famous grizzly bear was just killed by a car

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