At least 19 children did not go to sleep in their beds last night. Nineteen kids left pairs of tiny flip flops at home. Nineteen little ones and at least two adults won’t join their families for a July 4 BBQ this year — or in this lifetime.
A shooting as deadly as the Robb Elementary tragedy in Uvalde should not happen anywhere, but especially not in Texas, a state that prides itself on security, defense — and especially , gun ownership as a crime deterrent.
You can’t go five miles in Texas without seeing a person carry a firearm into a restaurant or without observing a MOLON LABE (“come and take them”) decal on the back of a Ford F-250. Gun “pride” is backed up by statistics: A 2021 count showed Texas boasted the most licenses for certain guns in the country.
Almost half of the adults living in Texas do so with a firearm in their home, car, or on their person. Last year, Gov. Greg Abbott signed a law that allows Texans to carry without a license or training.
Many Texans believe that this very gun culture saves lives. “More guns, less crime,” is embedded in the psyche here. How then could this tragedy happen in a place with as much bravado as a Delta Force and SEAL Team Six combined?
Politicians are already offering their suggestions by way of policy remedies. It is right and good to mourn and empathize and then get to work to ensure this will not happen again. Democrats will propose additional gun laws. Abbott is already getting lambasted and will continue to be, as will most Texas Republicans, for unwavering support of the Second Amendment.
Democrats will point to Texas and its robust gun ownership as proof that guns fail; Republicans will eschew any conversation that involves additional gun laws. Lawmakers will stand at a stalemate until another tragedy occurs.
We must not do this again in America, and especially not in Texas.
The best solution to these tragedies would be to root out why people carry out mass murders. This will take time, analysis and nuanced work by professionals.
In lieu of those discoveries, we must ask, what can we do to make schools safer now? Texas has plenty of gun laws. The shooter broke several laws, including bringing a gun within 300 feet of school property, fleeing a crime scene and more.
Based on what little we still know about the shooter and his weapons, there are only two realistic policy proposals that might have made a difference: The Eagles Act and “red flag” laws.
The Eagles Act is simple but has been stalled by Democrats. Ryan Petty, whose daughter Alaina was killed in the 2018 high school massacre in Parkland, Florida, has been a vocal proponent of the bill. The Eagles Act creates the National Threat Assessment Center within the Secret Service and expands its duties to include establishing a national program on targeted school violence prevention.
This would provide ways for schools to identify threats before it’s too late. When people suggest taking mental health measures into account, this is how to do it.
Florida’s red flag laws, which allow for risk protection orders requiring people considered dangerous to surrender guns, would be a good starting point for keeping Second Amendment rights intact but trying to prevent more tragedies like this.
Second Amendment advocates warn that red flag laws could be used to take away someone’s right to a firearm out of the blue. A well-crafted law should keep healthy, law-abiding citizens from losing their guns and mentally unstable, unwell, criminally-minded people from being able to retrieve a gun.
In the meantime, bolstering school security is the only sure way to ward off or prevent an active shooter.
Andrew Pollack, another grieving Parkland father, has suggested that every school should employ at least one armed guard, if not more. Every school should have only one point of entry every day, all day. These are simple, cost-effective ways to increase school security until we have the time and resources to root out the source of the problem.
The fact that Texans own more firearms than residents of any other state yet have failed to provide every school with armed guards and won’t adapt red flag laws creates an opening for stricter gun control measures. If gun-loving Texans want to keep their weapons, they need to demand better solutions.