The shooting in Uvalde was a horrific tragedy. That’s not a matter up for dispute. You either think it is or you’re a terrible monster.
What is up for debate, however, is just how much this tragedy could have been avoided or, at least, mitigated. The truth is that the more we see about what happened, the more obvious it becomes that this was a series of mistakes that culminated in such a significant loss of life.
But for officials in Uvalde–many of the same people ultimately responsible for the mistakes that fateful day–it’s vital they place the blame elsewhere.
Unsurprisingly, they’re blaming guns.
Two months after a mass shooting that claimed 21 lives at Robb Elementary School, the Uvalde City Council unanimously approved a resolution calling on the Legislature to raise the age young people can buy assault-style weapons from 18 to 21.
Mayor Donald McLaughlin Jr. and Councilman Ernest “Chip” King III, both gun owners, predicted before the meeting that the resolution asking Gov. Greg Abbott to call a special legislative session would be approved.
Another council member, Hector Luevano, dismissed it as a waste of time, given the power of the gun lobby. He still voted for it.
The National Rifle Association “has invested more than $2.8 million with senators and legislators in the state of Texas. That includes the governor,” Luevano said after the meeting. “You don’t bite the hand that feeds you, unfortunately, in this case.”
The Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District board had adopted a similar resolution a day earlier.
Uvalde is a conservative, rural county seat between the Hill Country and West Texas. But the ease with which an 18-year-old gunman killed 19 students and two teachers at Robb Elementary School has crystallizedlocal opinions in the debate over gun rights vs. gun restrictions, officials said.
Of course, they’re going to play up the “conservative” bit in the media. It helps them try to push the idea that there’s this broad support for gun control across the nation.
And, to be fair, this isn’t them calling for a ban on so-called assault weapons, either. It’s just raising the age limit.
However, we should point out that there are numerous mass shootings carried out by those under the age of 18, people who can’t lawfully purchase a firearm, so they steal them from a parent or relative. As such, I’m skeptical that raising the age would actually do anything to mitigate the issue.
Yet what I can’t help but notice, though, is that this call for a raise in the minimum age to buy a rifle comes from two entities that I can find fault with for what happened that day at Robb Elementary.
Uvalde schools weren’t hardened in any way. The gunman was able to gain access to the school without much problem, which really shouldn’t be that easy. No legislation was needed for a school district to decide to change policies to increase security on their campuses.
And it’s not like there haven’t been school shootings before that might have prompted such measures. They just didn’t do it, which puts at least a share of that day’s failings on them.
With the Uvalde City Council, well, they’re the ones who the police answer to. The interim police chief was a council member, even.
The buck stops with them for all the law enforcement failures–failures far more egregious than anything the school board can be held accountable for, really. For 77 minutes, police did nothing. As a friend of mine pointed out, the gunman could have used a muzzleloader and still killed just as many people with the time he was given.
So maybe I’m less inclined to actually care what either of these entities is calling for. If they or those who answer to them hadn’t screwed up by the numbers, most of us would never even have heard of Uvalde.