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Conservative leaders quickly dismissed calls for stronger gun laws following the killing of 19 children and several adults at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas on Tuesday. Instead, leaders in Texas and surrounding states suggested schools should increase armed security and consider arming teachers and staff to react to the next school shooting.
Yet, according to a report from the Associated Press, police officers on the scene declined to immediately enter the school, giving the 18-year-old gunman ample time to kill innocent fourth graders and teachers. Officials say the the gunman shot and wounded several security officers immediately upon entering the building. But witnesses say other officers who arrived on scene hesitated.
Witnesses told reporters on Wednesday that they urged police to charge the school soon after the attack began.
“Go in there, Go in there!” Nearby women shouted at law enforcement, according to an AP interview with 24-year-old Juan Carranza, who lives across the street.
Texas leaders to attend NRA conference days after shooting
Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steve McCraw said Wednesday that 40 minutes to an hour elapsed from when 18-year-old Salvador Ramos opened fire on a school security officer to when the tactical team shot him.
Meanwhile, in a press conference following the attack that was interrupted by Democratic gubernatorial candidate Beto O’Rourke, Texas Governor Greg Abbott downplayed his own role in loosening gun laws, which allowed the shooter to obtain the weapons immediately after he turned 18.
“We need all Texans to, in this one moment in time, put aside all personal agendas,” Abbott said.
Texas Republican U.S. Senator Ted Cruz also ignored O’Rourke’s calls for gun control legislation, saying Democrats and the media propose legislation that would “try to restrict the constitutional rights of law-abiding citizens. That doesn’t work, it’s not effective, it doesn’t prevent crime,” the Hill reported.
Conservative leaders in the state have instead proposed limiting points of entry in schools, arming teachers, increasing armed security, and investing in mental health treatment, despite admitting the shooter had no history of mental health issues.
Notably, Governor Abbott, Senator Ted Cruz and twice-impeached former president Donald Trump still plan to attend an NRA (National Rifle Association) Conference in Houston on Friday. It comes just days after the bloody attack. The NRA has been notoriously successful at lobbying legislators on the state and federal level to prevent effective gun control legislation.
Ironically, the Secret Service will ban guns at the conference, according to the NRA.
“As we gather in Houston, we will reflect on these events, pray for the victims, recognize our patriotic members, and pledge to redouble our commitment to making our schools secure.”
Witnesses say police hesitated to act
Before entering the school, Ramos shot his grandmother in the head. It signified a gruesome act that proved as a warmup for what he told a friend via text that he planned to do next.
“Right now we do not have an accurate or confident timeline to provide to say the gunman was in the school for this period,” Lt. Christopher Olivarez told CNN.
Ultimately, a border patrol agent stormed the building and shot Ramos to death, ending the brutal rampage. Yet, for the families forced to give samples of DNA to help investigators identify the deceased youth, the action was 40 minutes to an hour too late.
In fact, a law enforcement agent not authorized to speak on the investigation told the AP that once in the building, Border Patrol agents had to get help from a staff member to open the door to the classroom.
Javier Cazares’ fourth grade daughter, Jacklyn, died in the attack. He told the AP he raced to the school as soon as he heard about the shooting and said police were still gathered outside when he arrived.
“Let’s just rush in because the cops aren’t’ doing anything like they are supposed to,” he said. “More could have been done.”
Mass shootings, school shootings continue at record pace
Border Patrol Chief Raul Ortiz didn’t give details of the timeline but said that the tactical team didn’t hesitate. He told Fox News they moved quickly to enter and line up behind an agent holding a shield.
“What we wanted to make sure is to act quickly, act swiftly, and that’s exactly what those agents did,” Ortiz said.
The most deadly mass shooting at a school in the U.S. since Sandy Hook in 2012 came amidst several other mass shootings that killed 10 Black people in Buffalo, NY and Asian Americans in Orange County, California.
U.S. residents have experienced 27 school shootings so far this year, according to an Education Week database. Over 200 mass shootings have occurred in 2022 as of May. Last year, the nation ended with 693, up from 611 in 2020 and 417 in 2019, according to the Gun Violence Archive.
An investigation into the police response is ongoing.