State Sen. Roland Gutierrez wants the Texas Department of Public Safety to create robust mass shooting response training for all public safety entities after the chaotic response to the Uvalde school massacre delayed medical treatment of victims.
“Everybody in Texas needs to examine the complete and utter failure that happened on this day,” Gutierrez said at a news conference in Austin, joined by families of victims from last year’s Uvalde shooting and the 2018 Santa Fe High School shooting. “It must not ever happen again.”
The new slate of bills Gutierrez unveiled Tuesday came less than two months after an investigation by The Texas Tribune, ProPublica and The Washington Post found a faltered medical response undermined the chances that some Uvalde victims would survive the shooting.
On Tuesday, Gutierrez said the victims who had a pulse before later dying “might have lived” had the response been more in line with the average length of a mass shooting, which he said was about 12 to 14 minutes, compared to the 77 minutes children waited in Uvalde before the shooter was killed.
“We do not know how many of the other kids that didn’t have a pulse, at what time did they expire?” he said. “We do not know that.”
Gutierrez is a San Antonio Democrat whose Senate district includes Uvalde. His Senate Bill 738 calls for ensuring all public safety entities in certain counties have the radio infrastructure for communication between all public safety entities, including between different kinds of agencies.
Further, the bill would create a process to train public safety entities in responding to mass shootings. The training would be required to include protection of students at a school; emergency medical response training in minimizing casualties; tactics for denying an intruder entry into a school or classroom; and the chain of command during such an event.
Another legislative proposal outlined Tuesday would create a law enforcement unit tasked with having at least one officer present at each public school and higher education facility in the state. The unit, Texas School Patrol, would be expected to coordinate with local police officials about emergency responses to mass shooting events.
A third proposal, which Gutierrez called “a little bit more aspirational,” would replace a Confederate monument at the Capitol with a memorial to honor victims and survivors of mass gun violence.
“Each parent should be able to send their kids to school knowing that they’re going to be able to pick them up at the end of the day,” Gutierrez said. “We can afford to do this and we should do this and it will have the adequate training to make sure that they can handle this type of situation.”
Senate Bill 737, to create the new police unit, would require 10,000 additional officers in the state within the Texas Highway Patrol; it would cost about $750 million, Gutierrez said.
See here, here, and here for the background on Sen. Gutierrez’s efforts, and here for more on the failed medical response at Robb Elementary. I don’t want to predict success for any bill, especially a Democratic bill in Dan Patrick’s Senate, but SB738 strikes me as the kind of thing that probably won’t generate much ideological opposition. Spending money on enhanced security measures is one of the few acceptable-to-Republicans responses to mass shootings, so it has a chance. SB737 might have a chance as well, but it’s a lot more expensive and that might make people balk, even in a flush-budget biennium. I’m not saying these would be my top choices for bills to pass – I think SB738 has merit and hope it succeeds, while I’m far less enthusiastic about SB737 – but they are the sort of thing that could pass. This is the state government we have.