Some of his critics are mocking him for this, unfairly. “What if there’s a fire?” they say.
But you can have one point of entry to a building and multiple points of exit. Anyone who’s been to a multiplex movie theater has seen it with their own eyes. There’s only one way into the structure but each individual theater has its own fire exit that opens from the inside. When I was growing up, kids used to game that system by having one friend buy a ticket to get in and then open the fire exit for his friends, who’d be waiting outside.
Many schools already use that system, in fact. One front door, but many fire exits around the building.
Of course, if you listen carefully to Cruz here, he says, “Have one door into and out of the school.” Er … no, one door out of the school isn’t going to work. But maybe he was speaking inartfully off the cuff.
Cruz: Have one door… and have that one door, armed police officers at that door. If that had happened.. when that psychopath had arrived, the armed police officers could’ve taken him out… pic.twitter.com/YnOCDs9GAZ
— Acyn (@Acyn) May 25, 2022
Texas’s lieutenant governor made the same mistake. One entrance in: Makes sense. One entrance out: Huh?
Texas Lt Gov Dan Patrick on “hardening” schools: “There should be one entrance in and one entrance out in all of our elementary and all of our middle schools. They’re small enough to do that. There should be only one way in, and that should be a well protected entrance.” pic.twitter.com/SiCkUdVw81
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) May 26, 2022
I don’t think Cruz or Patrick is claiming that limiting the number of entry points a school has is a cure-all to the problem of school shootings. It’s a “best practice,” something that might reduce the number of school shootings, not a solution. One of the many tragic footnotes to the Uvalde massacre, however, is that Robb Elementary already employed some “best practices” to secure its campus. It wasn’t enough.
The district said it had assigned a group of support counselors and threat assessment teams to each campus and that it used software known as Social Sentinel that monitored “all social media with a connection to Uvalde” to identify any possible threats. Robb Elementary was also one of a group of campuses that used perimeter fencing designed to limit access to the building, according to the school district.
The school district even had its own small police force and a policy that teachers should keep their classroom doors locked, just in case. (Officers responding to the shooting reportedly had so much trouble breaking down the locked door of the classroom where the shooter was barricaded that they needed a school official to come and unlock it.) A few years ago, per NBC, Robb Elementary received $69,000 from the state for hardening measures like “metal detectors, barriers, security systems and ‘campus-wide active shooter alarm systems.'”
So how was the shooter able to get in and start his rampage? Either he planned meticulously to attack Robb Elementary on a particular date or he simply lucked out by attacking on a day when the school’s defenses happened to be lowered:
The school was holding an awards ceremony Tuesday for students who were just a few days from finishing the school year, which may be one explanation for the open doors. Parents reportedly were coming and going from the school all day.
Leti Ruiz, who has a granddaughter who survived the attack, said the school’s doors, usually locked, were open on Tuesday. “I think that’s why probably the gates were open, because people were coming in and out — parents — for the awards,” Ruiz said.
A single point of entry would have forced him to confront a security officer in order to enter the building. Although, uh, he *did* end up confronting a security officer — and two cops — and none of the three managed to stop him somehow.
Still, having a single point of entry could only help. So why is Cruz getting grief today for proposing “door control”? I think it boils down to the way the clip above reveals his priorities. It’s not that there’s no merit to the idea of limiting entrances to a school. There is, as nearly all school administrators agree:
Something for the great door debate:
"In the 2017–18 school year, 95 percent of public schools reported that they controlled access to school buildings by locking or monitoring doors during school hours." – National Center for Education Statisticshttps://t.co/RkraHggkHm pic.twitter.com/u63YCZgIid
— Jeryl Bier (@JerylBier) May 26, 2022
Rather, it’s the sense one gets from Cruz and Patrick that they’re open to literally anything, up to and including turning America’s 130,000 schools into fortresses each with its own complement of Marines, so long as it lets them avoid crossing their base by considering even modest gun-control measures. How much would it cost to station armed officers at the entrance of every school in the country, bearing in mind that some campuses contain multiple buildings and therefore would need multiple officers?
Have the people pushing the “single entry point to school” solution ever…seen a school?
Here’s my high school pls explain to me how that’s going to work. pic.twitter.com/J0iskrkidh
— Tim Miller (@Timodc) May 25, 2022
How much would it cost to retrofit schools to limit points of access? Should we also spend money to limit points of access at churches, nightclubs, and businesses, where mass shootings have also been known to occur? Should we install metal detectors at every entrance? A fiscal conservative like Cruz would normally blanch at laying out taxpayer bucks of this magnitude, but forced to choose between cutting a check and crossing gun-rights advocates by supporting red-flag laws, raising the age to purchase a gun, banning accessories that make mass shootings easier like high-capacity magazines, etc, his preference is clear.
He’s in a political jam in the sense that he knows he has to Do Something but his lifelong dream of becoming president won’t allow him to piss off Republican populists by condoning any gun restrictions. To paraphrase Meat Loaf, he would do anything to limit school shootings — but he won’t do that.
Many Republicans would, however. Although probably not many of the sort who vote in presidential primaries:
Those GOP numbers will almost certainly soften in the next few weeks. The only thing surer than support for gun control surging in the immediate aftermath of a mass shooting is that support fading as the news cycle moves on to other matters.
I’ll leave you with another interview Cruz did yesterday. Ken White is right that there’s nothing unfair about asking why America has so many more mass shootings than other countries do. The answer doesn’t have to be “more guns” — it’s surely more complicated than that — but the first step in solving a problem is at least identifying what’s causing it.
"Why only in America?"
US Senator Ted Cruz walks away from @Stone_SkyNews after being asked if "this is the moment to reform gun laws" https://t.co/d2oBaP4KvW#TedCruz #America #Texasshooting #gunlaws pic.twitter.com/gL4TYeg04t
— Sky News (@SkyNews) May 26, 2022