Please don’t ever talk to me about “a good guy with a gun” or “hardening the schools” again

The police were there but did nothing.

A gunman who killed 19 children and two teachers at a South Texas elementary school walked unopposed onto school grounds, state law enforcement officials said Thursday — and once he was inside, it took police an hour to stop him.

In the days after the massacre at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, officials with the Texas Department of Public Safety said the shooter encountered a police officer employed by the school district before charging through a back door — and gave conflicting accounts about whether the officer fired at the gunman.

Agency officials now say there was no police officer on campus when the shooter first arrived — but did not explain why they first believed there was.

The gunman crashed a truck in a ditch near the school at 11:28 a.m., fired at two passersby on the street, then entered the school 12 minutes later through a back door before police arrived, DPS officials said Thursday.

“He was not confronted by anybody,” Victor Escalon, a DPS official, said during a press conference Thursday. The agency is leading the investigation into the shooting along with Uvalde police.

The law enforcement response to the active shooter call has drawn mounting scrutiny in the days since the massacre. State law enforcement officials have given vague and conflicting answers on what exactly happened after the gunman arrived at the school, and parents have criticized police for not acting quickly enough to stop the shooter.

At a Wednesday press conference in Uvalde, DPS Director Steve McCraw said that a school police officer “engaged” with the gunman before he entered the school but did not exchange gunfire with the gunman. Other DPS officials were quoted in media reports saying there was an exchange of gunfire at that moment.

That was Wednesday. By Friday, they had gotten the story straight, and the local PD screwed it all up.

The head of the Texas Department of Public Safety criticized the police chief of the Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District on Friday, saying he acted too slowly in responding to the elementary school gunman who killed 21 people, including 19 children.

Steven McCraw, director of the Texas Department of Public Safety, said the incident commander — identified by the San Antonio Express-News as Uvalde CISD police chief Pete Arredondo — believed the situation was no longer an active shooter, but that of a barricaded suspect.

But 911 calls, reviewed by Texas Rangers, reveal that at least two people inside the Robb Elementary School classroom called police and reported that there were children inside who were alive.

Meanwhile, the shooting continued periodically.

“With the benefit of hindsight, of course it was not the right decision,” McCraw said. “It was the wrong decision.”

He said once the shooting continued, the incident commander — who he did not identify directly — should have switched back to an active shooter response.

“We believe should have been an entry at that as soon as they (could),” McCraw added. “When there’s an active shooter, the rules change.”

Meanwhile, inside the classroom, children made terrified calls to 911, whispering and asking for help.

All of this has made Greg Abbott mad because he had been out there praising the Uvalde PD’s response before being clued in about how inept they were. He should maybe be mad that all of his party’s “solutions” for stopping mass shootings at schools just don’t work.

Four years after an armed 17-year-old opened fire inside a Texas high school, killing 10, Gov. Greg Abbott tried to tell another shell-shocked community that lost 19 children and two teachers to a teen gunman about his wins in what is now an ongoing effort against mass shootings.

“We consider what we did in 2019 to be one of the most profound legislative sessions not just in Texas but in any state to address school shootings,” Abbott said inside a Uvalde auditorium Wednesday as he sat flanked by state and local officials. “But to be clear, we understand our work is not done, our work must continue.”

Throughout the 60-minute news conference, he and other Republican leaders said a 2019 law allowed districts to “harden” schools from external threats after a deadly shooting inside an art classroom at Santa Fe High School near Houston the year before. After the Uvalde gunman was reportedly able to enter Robb Elementary School through a back door this week, their calls to secure buildings resurfaced yet again.

But a deeper dive into the 2019 law revealed many of its “hardening” elements have fallen short.

Schools didn’t receive enough state money to make the types of physical improvements lawmakers are touting publicly. Few school employees signed up to bring guns to work. And many school districts either don’t have an active shooting plan or produced insufficient ones.

In January 2020, the Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District received $69,000 from a one-time, $100 million state grant to enhance physical security in Texas public schools, according to a dataset detailing the Texas Education Agency grants. The funds were comparable to what similarly sized districts received.

Even with more funds and better enforcement of policies, experts have said there is no indication that beefing up security in schools has prevented any violence. Plus, they said, it can be detrimental to children, especially children of color.

“This concept of hardening, the more it has been done, it’s not shown the results,” said Jagdish Khubchandani, a public health professor at New Mexico State University who studies school security practices and their effectiveness.

Khubchandani said the majority of public schools in the United States already implement the security measures most often promoted by public officials, including locked doors to the outside and in classrooms, active-shooter plans and security cameras.

After a review of 18 years of school security measures, Khubchandani and James Price from the University of Toledo did not find any evidence that such tactics or more armed teachers reduced gun violence in schools.

“It’s not just guns. It’s not just security,” Khubchandani said. “It’s a combination of issues, and if you have a piecemeal approach, then you’ll never succeed. You need a comprehensive approach.”

I was on the board of our elementary school’s PTA in 2012, when the Sandy Hook murders happened. Our school adopted the “only one entrance” idea then, so even though there were other entrances to the school, you had to go through this one, and be buzzed in, if you wanted to visit. That could easily be defeated by an attacker, of course, but it’s in line with the official Republican response. The other ideas, you know, about limiting access to extremely deadly automatic weapons that can fire dozens of rounds in a few seconds, we’re still waiting on that.

Again, there’s plenty of reporting and analysis out there. You don’t need me to regurgitate it all. What we need, all of us, is a change in political leadership in this state, plus at least two more Democratic Senators, to maybe have a chance to move this forward. (We’ll also have to deal with the radical Supreme Court, but with those two more Democratic Senators, bigger things are on the table.) We’re not going to get anything from the Greg Abbotts and Dan Patricks. We have to get them out of power to have a chance.

UPDATE: Here’s two more things for you to read if you haven’t had enough yet.

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24 Responses to Please don’t ever talk to me about “a good guy with a gun” or “hardening the schools” again

  1. C.L. says:

    The shit is really going to hit the fan on this one, especially when ALL the facts become clear on how it all went down with first responder response and the overall lack of security or preparation on the part of the school itself.

    And Abbott… oh Greg… you never hold a press conference 12/24/36/48 hours after an event like this and make definitive statements about the tragedy….when you don’t f’ing know, or only know 1/4 of the facts and details.

    And to scream back at Beto (who probably shouldn’t have been screaming to begin with) at a press conference about an attempt to make/making ‘political points’ while holding a press conference to Make political points is just a fustercluck of stupidity.

  2. Flypusher says:

    This “don’t play politics” dodge is so stupid and hypocritical. The whole point of politics is to get your ideas for solutions to problems implemented. “Hardening the schools”, “arm the teachers” and “more cops in schools” is just as much playing politics as “Red flag warnings” “ban sales of certain types of weapons”.

    I’m glad Beto called Abbott out, because this ritual of thoughts and prayers but no real action after a mass shooting has played out so many times it’s become a sick joke. It’s time for some good trouble. The people of Uvalde should note that their mayor sure looked angrier at Beto than the actual sick son of a bitch who murdered 21 people.

  3. Joel says:

    Nothing will change.

    My high school students all tell me that the 2nd amendment is their favorite right even while schools are getting shot up.

  4. Jason Hochman says:

    This is what happens when you de-fund the police. The police need to be empowered to act with power, force, and aggression. Not act like counselors, or worry about offending someone.

  5. Jason,

    Bullshit. The city of Uvalde spends 40% of its budget on police.

    Did you miss all of the stories about how they police in Uvalde simply didn’t enter the school, and actively prevented parents from trying themselves? Even the Abbott-appointed head of the DPS has now talked about how the Uvalde police department failed in this tragedy. It’s right there in what I cited above. Don’t insult our intelligence.

  6. Flypusher says:

    I’d like to know exactly where any police departments have actually been defunded.

    Certainly the police are dealing with reduced public trust, but they have few grounds to complain about that either.

  7. mollusk says:

    One thing that hasn’t been mentioned much is that before the shooter turned 18 he asked his sister to buy him a gun and she turned him down flat – which tends to contradict that “laws limiting access don’t work” line of crap.

  8. C.L. says:

    @Kuff.. Thank you for calling out that bullshit argument. Twenty officer police department or 200 person police department, you don’t sit on your hands when at an active and ongoing crime scene.

  9. Pingback: Justice Department to review what happened with Uvalde police – Off the Kuff

  10. Jules says:

    I greatly appreciate you calling bullshit on the bullshit.

  11. We definitely need new gun control laws, better enforcement of existing laws, and better security measures at our school premises (all options should be on the table). Like the rest of you, I’m sick and tired of politicians offering their “thoughts and prayers”, but little else. Through the outrage and grief, we need to take action. For anyone interested, my post is below:

  12. Flypusher says:

    My suggestions

    1) Get rid of open carry. That is just trouble waiting to happen.

    2) Get rid of “Constitutional” carry and go back to the original concealed carry requirements-mandatory training and a permit.

    3) No “buy now, pay layer” for gun and ammo sales. Either you pay cash, or you have established the necessary credit limit on your credit cards. The 2 guns and all the ammo the Uvalde shooter bought were probably more than most 18 year olds could afford up front.

    4) Greater legal liability for gun owners who fail to secure them. If your gun is stolen and used in a crime, that’s a felony and a lifetime ban from gun ownership unless you did your due diligence and reported it stolen as soon as you realized it was missing. Should you leave it loaded where a child can get it, you are changed with child endangerment (at the very least, if you’re lucky and no one gets harmed by your negligence).

  13. Ross says:

    Fly, leaving a loaded firearm where a child(defined as under 17) can get to it is already a crime. Class C misdemeanor if nothing happens, Class A if someone is injured. 17 is the age of adulthood in Texas criminal law, which, I assume, is the reason the law applies to those under 17.

    I am not a fan of permitless handgun carry, but I have seen no evidence that it has been an issue in mass shootings. The crime rates for CHL holders were miniscule.

    I have seen very few people open carrying, and that was almost entirely in rural areas.

    Banning AR-15 rifles is pretty much a non-starter until someone can convince the tens of millions of people who own them that they should give them up. If a ban is passed, very few will be turned in, and my prediction is that if police go door to door to confiscate them, there will be many dead police.

    And, for those who bring up the 1994 “Assault” Weapon Ban, it had almost zero effect, other than the removal of a few cosmetic features.

  14. C.L. says:

    Another bullshit argument, Ross, promulgated by many. Name me one elected official or individual responsible for running a governmental entity that has ever proposed the (forced) removal of assault rifles from individual’s homes or business. It’s a (proposed) ban going forward, not some retroactive plan to beat down doors and seize weaponry.

    Re: the 1994 ban (see hyperlink below)… Even it is was a 1% decrease, that 1% may have been the the instance where your family member was shot by some lunatic. Worth trying, dontcha think ? Doing nothing does nothing.

  15. Flypusher says:

    “ Fly, leaving a loaded firearm where a child(defined as under 17) can get to it is already a crime. Class C misdemeanor if nothing happens, Class A if someone is injured. 17 is the age of adulthood in Texas criminal law, which, I assume, is the reason the law applies to those under 17.”

    It needs to be upgraded to a felony. No more excuses for failing to secure guns.

  16. Flypusher says:

    “ Fly, leaving a loaded firearm where a child(defined as under 17) can get to it is already a crime. Class C misdemeanor if nothing happens, Class A if someone is injured. 17 is the age of adulthood in Texas criminal law, which, I assume, is the reason the law applies to those under 17.”

    It needs to be upgraded to a felony. No more excuses for failing to secure guns.

  17. Ross says:

    C.L. Here’s Beto O’Rourke promising to take away so called “assault weapons” with mandatory buybacks

    He’s tried to walk that back, but I don’t believe him.

    There’s no point in banning future purchases of so called assault weapons if the current stock isn’t banned as well. When California introduced registration of existing “assault weapons”, the law was mostly ignored until police started hanging out at rifle ranges and checking the status of rifles. That was a real waste of time and resources, since the vast majority of firearms owners are not law breakers, and mostly want to be left alone, since they are not causing harm to anyone.

    Most of the people calling for restrictions are totally clueless. They talk about bodies being shredded. Well, that happens with any centerfire rifle. A .223 is no different than a .30-06, a .308, or a .243 in that respect. They claim no one uses an AR-15 type rifle for hunting. That’s total bullshit, because people do use them for hunting. Versions in 30 AAC Blackout are excellent tools for feral hog control, while the .223 versions are good for coyotes and other pests. I know several land owners that use an AR-15 for culling deer when herds get too large(with the proper paperwork from TXPWD, of course)

    If I thought any of these proposals would work, I would support them, but I don’t think they will work. All of the bans were based on appearance, attempting to ban some rifles, but ignoring functionally identical rifles that were more conventional looking, and not scary or ugly.

    Your last sentence reeks of the “think of the children” trope that stupid politicians use to tug at the heartstrings of uninformed idiots.

  18. Ross says:

    Fly, I would support your suggestion. However, DA’s typically do not prosecute violations, claiming that “the parents have suffered enough”. In that case, why have the law?

  19. Flypusher says:

    It’s not always the parents of the child killed who left the gun unsecured. I’d set up the law to give the DAs/ judges/ juries some discretion. So you could convict a criminally negligent parent of a felony for leaving the gun out, resulting in the death/ injury of a child, and the minimum sentence would be x years probation, y hours of community service, and a ban on firearm ownership. Prison time would be an option if the details of the case warranted it.

  20. Leonard says:

    Ross: the guns you want to ban are the exact same as other guns except uglier

    Also Ross: the guns you want to ban are super necessary for hunting because they are used to cull the herd and it would be too hard without these guns even though there are other guns exactly the same except not as attractive that you don’t want to ban

    Ross: the current laws aren’t prosecuted because when someone accidentally kills their own child they haz a sads and that would be mean, so this law should be abolished even if one person thinks to lock a gun away from children because thinking of the children is an idiotic trope

    Ross: only a few people open carry so it should totally be legal, even though chl holders are the unlikely to commit crimes and so that follows logically that chl should be replaced by open carry

  21. Ross says:

    Leonard, what is your point? Are you drunk? High? Or just a stupid piece of shit? You did do an excellent job of completely mischaracterizing what I said.

    I didn’t say to do away with the child access to firearms laws, I said DA’s don’t prosecute under them. If I were DA, I would prosecute the hell out of people who left a firearm out where a child got it and did harm.

    I also said I am not a fan of permitless carry. However, there is no evidence it increases the risk of mass shootings. Mostly it scares the hoplophobes who think all firearms are dangerous in and of themselves. It’s a fact that CHL holders did/do not commit crimes at anywhere near the same rate as the general population.

    I also called out people who said AR-15 type rifles aren’t used for hunting. They are, so saying they aren’t is a fallacious argument.

  22. Pingback: The entire law enforcement response in Uvalde is messed up – Off the Kuff

  23. Leonard says:

    Ross, I must just be a stupid piece if shit since I am neither drunk nor high.

    Sorry that I misinterpreted your comment on guns laws/minors “why have the law” as not wanting the law, instead of just giving up that such laws would ever be enforced.

    Yeah it would be a total bummer if a bunch of hoplophobes called the cops when they saw fine citizens walking around with their cool deer slaughtering guns.

    Your story about how the guns are good for slaughtering lots of deer (TXPWD paperwork in hand!) so we can’t get rid of guns that slaughter lots of children (think of the children!) was cool tho.

  24. C.L. says:

    I think everyone should carry a gun – young/old, stupid/smart, stoned/sober, Jew/gentile, gay/straight, friend/foe. Give ’em all assault rifles…and give those pesky deer and feral hogs a way to defend themselves as well.

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