This story is part of a KXAN series of reports called “Stop Mass Shootings,” providing context and exploring solutions surrounding gun violence in the wake of the deadly Uvalde school shooting. We want our reports to be a resource for Texans, as well as for lawmakers who are convening a month after the events in Uvalde to discuss how the state should move forward. Explore all “Stop Mass Shootings” stories by clicking here.
AUSTIN (KXAN) — As the Uvalde community continues to mourn the loss of 19 children and two teachers, politicians are split on how to prevent these massacres going forward.
“We know from past experience,” said Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), one of several Republicans pushing back on gun control, “the most effective tool for keeping kids safe is armed law enforcement on the campus.”
As reported by PolitiFact, some studies of past shootings suggest otherwise.
In 2021, researchers at the University at Albany and the RAND Corporation found school resource officers “do not prevent school shootings or gun-related incidents,” even though they do effectively reduce other forms of violence. Another study in the Journal of the American Medical Association looked at 133 school shootings between 1980-2019 and found “no association between having an armed officer and deterrence of violence.” The report also added “armed guards were not associated with significant reduction rates of injuries” during school shootings.
Instead of gun reform, Cruz and others want schools to be hardened with single-points of entry, locked doors and more armed guards. During the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary, the school’s security door was locked at the time. The gunman gained access by shooting through a window. In Parkland, an armed school resource officer on campus failed to stop the shooter from getting inside.
“Prior research suggests that many school shooters are actively suicidal, intending to die in the act, so an armed officer may be an incentive rather than a deterrent,” the JAMA Network study found. “The majority of shooters who target schools are students of the school, calling into question the effectiveness of hardened security and active shooter drills.”
Cruz said gun-control “doesn’t work.”
“It’s not effective,” Cruz said. “It doesn’t prevent crime. We know what does prevent crime, which is going after felons and fugitives and those with serious mental illness. Arresting them. Prosecuting them when they try to illegally buy firearms.”
However, in Uvalde, officials say the gunman had no known history of mental illness and — like in other recent mass shootings — legally purchased his firearms. Officials said he bought two AR-style rifles and more than 1,600 rounds of ammunition shortly after his 18th birthday.
The Texas Senate Democratic Caucus is asking Gov. Abbott for a special session that would raise the minimum age to purchase a rifle to 21; require universal background checks and a cooling-off period; implement red flag laws; and regulate ownership of high-capacity magazines.
“Yeah, we have a mental health problem in this country and in this state. Go fund it properly, sure,” said State. Sen. Roland Gutierrez, (D-San Antonio). “But that isn’t it. There’s mental health problems around the world and only in the United States, only in the United States, do these massacres happen.”