It's Time for Republicans to Be Proactive on School Shootings

It's Time for Republicans to Be Proactive on School Shootings
AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite

The mass shooting in Uvalde, TX, continues to rightfully dominate headlines, and quickly, the conversation has moved away from the victims and to who in the political realm is to blame.

For their part, Democrats have lashed out, accusing Republicans of wanting children to be killed because they don’t support “gun control” provisions that logically would not have stopped this attack from happening. One such instance involved House Democrat Ruben Gallego asserting that Sen. Ted Cruz supported the slaughter of kids while at the same time plugging his own support for abortion until birth.

But while the left does what the left always does, which is to grotesquely blame their political opponents for tragedies, I’d suggest it’s time for Republicans to be proactive. Waiting for Democrats to demagogue the issue with emotional pleas for ineffective gun control while calling their political enemies murderers is not a strategy.

What do I suggest? Well, let’s look at the history of the shooter, and perhaps we can glean some actionable steps to take legislatively. According to The New York Post, Salvador Ramos, the 18-year-old had just about every red flag in the book.

The gunman who slaughtered 19 kids and two teachers at a Texas elementary school reportedly exhibited increasingly bizarre behavior leading up to the rampage — including cutting up his face with knives just “for fun,” friends said…

…Valdez also described how Ramos used to drive around with another pal and shoot people at random with a BB gun — and also egged people’s cars…

…Flores and several other people familiar with the family said Ramos’ mother used drugs, which contributed to the trouble at home, according to the Washington Post, which said it could not reach her for comment.

There are even more details within the Post’s article, but to summarize, Ramos was mentally ill to the point where he was cutting himself, shooting people with BB guns, and starting fights with boxing gloves in the park. He also lived in a home without a father with a drug addict mother, and the police were aware of him because of past domestic incidents.

And in the midst of all that, the authorities never thought “We need to get this kid to a facility”? Instead, he was shipped off to live with his grandmother, which is not at all a viable attempt to deal with what was clearly a volatile situation.

Obviously, more background checks would not have helped the situation. After all, Ramos, like most mass shooters passed a background check because they didn’t have a prior criminal record. Past that, gun confiscation is not only unconstitutional, but it’s completely unworkable and wouldn’t get guns out of the hands of those that want to harm others anyway.

With that said, Republicans should propose legislation that tackles things from both ends in ways that actually have some direct connection to what happened.

For example, there are literally billions of dollars in unspent COVID “relief” funds earmarked for educational institutions. Introduce a bill that redirects some or all of that to increasing security at schools. That would include hiring more SROs, hardening doors, and imposing single-entry setups on existing buildings. Those are actions, unlike the gun control push, that would directly prevent or limit the damage of school shootings. Even a metal door with a magnetic lock would represent enough of an obstacle for a shooter to rob them of the element of surprise, giving those inside precious time to barricade classrooms.

On the other end, you have the mental health issue, which is the consistent factor in essentially all these shootings. It’s hard to think of a mass shooter who didn’t exhibit clear signs of mental illness, not just to his family, but to the authorities as well, prior to carrying out an attack. I know this may not be popular with libertarians, but I do think the authorities need the power to forcibly commit people who objectively exhibit mental illness. That would go for possible mass shooters, but also cover other problems, such as the homeless who are attacking people on the streets in places like California.

Lastly, while we don’t need universal background checks, which are really just a Trojan horse for a national gun registry and would do nothing to prevent mass shootings, there are aspects of background checks already occurring that could be expanded without violating the rights of gun owners. If a person has made threats in the past, as the Buffalo shooter did, that should be a red flag for a background check. If they have been involved in domestic violence, that should be a red flag. If you have an 18-year-old high school student that has shown violent behavior and is known to the authorities, that should be a red flag.

Remember, a dealer has the right to deny a sale of their own volition for essentially any reason. If a background check provided enough information to pique a dealer’s interest, they might take five minutes to do a little more research and make a different decision about a sale. It’s at least something to think about in how the background check process could be made to work more effectively while not infringing on law-abiding gun owners.

In short, Republicans should stop playing defense when they haven’t done anything wrong lest they be consumed. Preempt the ineffective policy prescriptions of the left, which only serve to garner unrelated political goals, by introducing actual “common-sense” reforms. Have those reforms not target the Second Amendment, but rather focus on the direct protection of schools, enforcing existing laws, and getting the mentally ill the help they need. If Democrats want to say no to all that, let them go on the record.

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