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May 27, 2022
The timeline for the Uvalde massacre is becoming clearer.
After shooting his grandmother in the face and taking her truck, the gunman got to Robb Elementary School at 11:28 Tuesday morning and started firing into the school windows. A police officer responded to a call about the shooter but drove by him, instead mistaking a teacher for the suspect. The gunman got into the school through a door that had been propped open, and began his rampage down a hallway, ending up at about 11:30 in two joined fourth-grade classrooms, 111 and 112, with students and two teachers.
He apparently closed and locked the door. He shot the teachers first, and then students.
Local police responded, and several ran into the school. Two were wounded slightly at the doorway when bullets came through it. By noon, there were 19 police officers in the school and many others outside. Parents were gathering, urging the officers to charge the shooter. Officers warned them not to interfere with an ongoing investigation, arresting at least one and pinning another to the ground. By 12:15, a tactical team from the U.S. Border Patrol arrived at the school.
But there appears to have been confusion about who was in charge. Uvalde is a town of about 16,000 people, and it has a six-officer department to oversee eight schools, as well as a city police force with a SWAT team. The first people on the scene were city officers, but Pedro Arredondo, the chief of police for the Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District, took charge.
Arredondo apparently ordered the officers not to rush the classroom despite the sporadic gunfire coming from it. The head of the Texas state police, Steven C.McCraw, said today that, despite decades of active shooter trainings that call for rushing a gunman, Arredondo decided that the gunman had barricaded himself in the classroom and was no longer an active shooter, and thus there were no children at risk. He decided to wait for more equipment and more officers to arrive before attempting to break into the room.
At least two children trapped in the classroom with the shooter called 911 at least eight times during the siege to beg for help. “Please send the police now,” one girl whispered on one of her several calls.
At about 12:50, the Border Patrol officers got a key from a janitor, unlocked the door, stormed the room and killed the gunman.
The gunman was in the school for 78 minutes before law enforcement officers went in after him. He killed 21 people and wounded 17 more.
In a press conference today, McCraw called the delay in rushing the gunman “the wrong decision.” Asked what he would say to the parents, he responded: “I don’t have anything to say to the parents, other than what happened. We are not here to defend what happened, we are here to report the facts…. If I thought it would help, I would apologize.”
The events in Uvalde have dealt a devastating blow to the theory that a good guy with a gun will prevent gun violence.
A Politico/Morning Consult poll out Wednesday showed “huge support” for gun regulations. It showed that 88% of voters strongly or somewhat support background checks on all gun sales, while only 8% strongly or somewhat oppose such checks. That’s a net approval of +80.
Preventing gun sales to people who have been reported to police as dangerous by a mental health provider is supported by 84% of voters while only 9% oppose it, a net approval of +75.
Seventy-seven percent of voters support requiring guns to be stored in a safe storage unit, while only 15% oppose such a requirement, a net approval of +62.
A national database for gun sales gets 75% approval and 18% disapproval, a net approval rate of +57.
Banning assault style weapons like the AR-15 has an approval rate of 67% of voters while only 25% disapprove. That’s a net approval of +42.
And fifty-four percent of voters approve of arming teachers with concealed weapons, while only 34% oppose it, a net approval of +20.
And yet, their opposition to regulation and their embrace of cowboy individualism means Republicans have made it clear they will not entertain any measures to regulate gun ownership, except perhaps the last one, which teachers, parents, students, and the two largest teachers’ unions all overwhelmingly oppose.
The party appears to be doubling down on their support for expanded gun rights, trying to convince gun owners that the regulations under which we lived until 2004 will somehow end gun ownership altogether. Today, Texas Senator Ted Cruz seemed to be trying to distract the popular fury over the massacre with an argument that schools need fewer doors, a nonsensical argument that seemed designed to derail the public conversation as people go down rabbit holes talking about fire safety and extended school campuses, gym class, and recess, and murderers who simply pull fire alarms.
When the National Rifle Association opened its annual conference today in Houston, Texas, former president Trump attended, although others had begged off because of the massacre. “You are the backbone of our movement,” he told the crowd, which was not allowed to have guns—or knives, or laser pointers—in the General Assembly Hall to protect Trump’s safety. “He’s always with us, always supporting us, when a lot of people are running in the other direction,” a man from Houston told Glenn Thrush of the New York Times. “I think him coming here, at this time, is huge.”
But there is something else huge at work in the country right now, too. Protests against the weaponry that makes gun violence the leading cause of death for those between the ages of 1 and 24 are spreading. Today, more than 4000 protesters, including Beto O’Rourke, the Democratic candidate for Texas governor, gathered in the 93 degree heat outside the NRA convention to share their stories of gun violence and their contempt for leaders who refuse to stand against it. Children stood with pictures of the children murdered in Uvalde with signs that said: “Am I next?” O’Rourke told the crowd: “The time for us to stop mass shootings in this country is right now, right here, today.”
Tonight, Jocelyn Benson, the Michigan secretary of state who stood up to Trump when he accused her of preparing to rig the vote in 2020, tweeted: “The only thing that can stop a bad politician with a vote is a good citizen with a vote.”