Something About School Shootings
Every mass school shooting strikes terror in parents’ hearts and grief in the communities in which they occur. You might from press coverage have the idea that they are a regular occurrence, but, in fact, they remain rare -- 13 mass school shootings since 1966.
Still, like all seemingly incomprehensible tragedies it causes a search for meaning. After all, people my age went to schools where there were rifle clubs. Kids in those clubs regularly brought their weapons to school, and yet there weren’t any school shootings. (I expect in some rural areas of the country this may still be the case.)
What is common, as it is in all tragic events, is the jumbling of facts and the need to wait a few days for a clearer picture. The best information I can find right now about the shooting in Uvalde, Texas comes from the Wall Street Journal.
With minor additions as late-developing information comes in from elsewhere, that is the source of this summary timeline.
Salvador Ramos, an 18-year-old, shot his grandmother Tuesday morning. He drove her truck to Robb elementary school and crashed it in a ditch at 11:28. Emerging from the truck he began shooting at persons outside a funeral home located across the street from the school. Police received a 911 call about the shooting at 11:30. He then climbed a fence and entered the school grounds, began firing without interference at 11:40. By 11:44 the local police arrived at the school. By that time Ramos had locked himself into a fourth-grade classroom and killed teachers and students. Some students in that room sent 9ll messages as the shootings were taking place. The location of the gunman was known but the police did not enter the room until 12:40.
(The Texas DPS says the police did go in and engage Ramos immediately but then retreated and stood outside in the hallway until 12:50.) Ramos entered the building at an exit door one teacher, not identified, had propped open when the shooting began outside the school and failed to secure it. Presumably this is the same person who first called 911 and if so, it is easy for investigators to determine the teacher’s identity. This seems to have been the first serious mistake, the second being the police failure to stay in and engage Ramos immediately.
Mass shootings -- unlike the never-ending daily carnage on the streets of our major cities -- receive outsize coverage from people who have their pet theories as to why such tragedies occur. I think we are dealing with a combination of the killers’ psychiatric issues and clueless behavior by their family members. The family usually expresses disbelief that one of their members could do this. Less blinkered observers report that Ramos abused animals, bullied people, engaged in self cutting, threatened girls with rape, and announced on social media that he’d be shooting up the school before he made good on that threat.
Parents were prevented in the interim between Ramos’ entry into the school and the tardy police response from entering to save their kids. One woman was handcuffed for trying. When she was released from the police cuffs by a friend, she climbed the fence, entered the school and removed her two children to safety. The Border Patrol arrived at the school shortly after noon to assist. As they did with the parents, the local law enforcement team on site refused to allow them to enter.
Flopping Aces, echoes my thoughts on this. Reviewing several other cases -- Jared Loughner, Nikolas Cruz, Peyton Gendron -- along with this one, the author shows that those closest to the shooter just were not paying even minimal attention to the teens’ psychiatric issues:
Salvador Ramos wasn’t right in the head and was known to police. He also left a trail:
Just hours before the killings took place, Ramos had messaged an acquaintance on Instagram telling her he had a ‘lil secret’ he wanted to share, after earlier tagging her in a photo of two guns he bought himself on his 18th birthday. His TikTok account also featured a short user bio that read: ‘Kids Be Scared.’
He mutilated himself
Neighbors and classmates say his behavior spiraled into the bizarre and macabre as he entered his later teenage years, with one friend telling Good Morning America: ‘He had scars on his face and someone asked him, ‘Are you ok?’ and he just said with a smile ‘I did it myself, I liked how it looked.’
He began dressing in dark clothes and military boots and used his BB gun to target random people, one local claimed.
Ramos sent Facebook messages:
‘Ima do something to her rn [right now]’ wrote Ramos in a message at 11.10am Texas time. He added a few minutes later: ‘She’s on the phone with AT&T abojt [sic] my phone… It’s annoying’.
At 11.21am he wrote ‘I just shot my grandma in her head’ and added in his final message: ‘Ima go shoot up a elementary school.’
None of these young people should have been able to buy a gun. Families always profess shock and surprise but never seem to pay attention to the trails of crumbs being left along the way.
Without fail, such events encourage those who’d like to wipe the Second Amendment off the books and deprive lawful citizens from the means to defend themselves. Does the fact that the cops stood outside the school for an hour during the slaughter give you comfort? It doesn’t ease my friend Betsy Gorisch: “Among all the other things we need to keep in mind about the Uvalde school shooting there is this: In what is arguably the only true test of whether or not we should rely on the police to protect us, the courts have ruled that they cannot be sued for failure to do so.” That’s another way of saying law enforcement has no legal duty to protect you.
Professor Ann Althouse also finds that the police response diminishes the anti-gun crowd’s arguments: "If the police don’t arrive and save us from violence, how can this event support the argument for restricting guns? This is the very situation that makes the most responsible people want to own guns. It reminds me of the summer of 2020, when there were riots, and the police stood down.”
Just as reason will not stop the anti-gun crowd from using this wretched example of inept and useless law enforcement to argue that we should depend solely on them and cede our rights to personal defense, these events only fuel the efforts of demagogues to use them for other sleazy political purposes. Right on cue Democrats again try to inject race into the mix, led off by Barack Obama “crowbar[ring]” the death of the far from innocent George Floyd into this tragic slaughter of the Uvalde innocents.
Well, at least, unlike the Washington Post which seems to be editorless, he didn’t claim the cops shot Floyd.