Politics - News Analysis

Texas Teachers Publicly Turn Against Ted Cruz Over Gun Policies, and They are ANGRY

Several teachers, all members of a teacher’s union in Texas, marched to Sen. Ted Cruz’s office Tuesday demanding that he grow a pair and actually do something useful in response to the horrific mass shooting at a school in Uvalde, Texas.

The teachers are all members of the Texas American Federation of Teachers (AFT), which represents nearly 70,000 teachers within the state, Newsweek reports. Their chants, demanding safer classrooms, could be heard outside as they marched to the senator’s office.

“Sen. Cruz’s response to the Uvalde shooting has been abominable. The senator is beating a drum promoting the status quo (a status that has brought us six deadly mass shootings in Texas in the past five years) instead of leading the U.S. Senate to establish simple first steps to gun access that a majority of Texans and Americans support,” the AFT noted in a statement before the march.

The march comes just one week after 21 people, including 19 children, lost their lives at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde. The alleged shooter Salvador Ramos, 18, fatally shot all of the children and two teachers in one classroom. Arguably while police allegedly sat on their hands and did nothing. Ramos was eventually killed by officers about an hour after he entered the school last Tuesday.

Rather than doing anything useful, Cruz offered the typical “thoughts and prayers” tweet.

“Heidi & I are fervently lifting up in prayer the children and families in the horrific shooting in Uvalde. We are in close contact with local officials, but the precise details are still unfolding. Thank you to heroic law enforcement & first responders for acting so swiftly.”

In the days that have followed, Cruz has repeatedly told reporters that armed officers should be provided to school campuses to prevent future mass shootings.

“We know from past experience that the most effective tool for keeping kids safe is armed law enforcement on the campus,” Cruz said in an interview with MSNBC. “Inevitably when there’s a murder of this kind, you see politicians trying to politicize it, you see Democrats and a lot of folks in the media whose immediate solution is to try to restrict the constitutional rights of law-abiding citizens. It’s not effective. It doesn’t prevent crime.”

But this fact-checking article from the Poynter Institute shows that Cruz is flat-out wrong. His comments led Poynter’s Madison Czopek to ask:

“Is it true that we know from ‘past experiences that the most effective tool for keeping kids safe is armed law enforcement on the campus?”

“No,” she concludes.

“Whether it’s anecdotal evidence or broad-based research, there is little to support Cruz’s claim,” Czopek writes.

She began by elucidating the situation in Uvalde and included a number of examples to back up her conclusion.

In regards to Uvalde, there’s been a welter of reports, some of them conflicting regarding what happened at Robb Elementary School. According to Steven McCraw, Director of the Texas Department of Public Safety on May 25, before Ramos entered the school to shoot and kill the children and the teachers, he was confronted by a district school resource officer, a title that’s commonly used for armed police officers who work on school campuses.

“There was a brave consolidated independent school district resource officer that approached (Ramos), engaged him, and at that time gunfire was not exchanged,” per McCraw. “The subject was able to make it into the school.”

Additional media accounts have offered other details about how many officers were involved and the nature of the confrontation. But then on May 26, Texas law enforcement officials reported that the gunman was able to gain unobstructed access into the school and said a school resource officer wasn’t on duty.

“He walked in unobstructed initially,” said Victor Escalon, the regional director for the Texas Department of Public Safety.

Law enforcement eventually shot and killed Ramos, but not before 21 people were killed and 17 wounded.

Czopek also refers to a deadly shooting in Santa Fe High School, in Santa Fe, Texas in 2018. Even though the shooter, in this case, was quickly detained by two police officers, one of whom was shot, the 17-year-old shooter still managed to kill 10 people and wound 30 in a half-hour time span. Numerous explosive devices were also found at the scene, officials say.

And according to The Trace, a nonprofit newsroom that dedicates itself to gun issues, discovered that in Santa Fe and several other deadly shootings in 2018 — including Kentucky’s Marshall County High School in January; Florida’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas  High School in February; and Maryland’s Great Mills High School in March — “attackers stormed campuses despite the presence of armed guards.” In every single case, armed guards DID NOT prevent the gunman from killing people.

That’s not all, either. The Trace found that well-established research provides little support for Cruz’s claims that armed law enforcement officers on campuses are the “most effective tool,” for keeping kids safe. The publication cites a 2021 study that was conducted by researchers from the University of Albany and RAND reviewed data from U.S. schools from 2014 to 2018 to see just what possible impacts school resource offices do have. The researchers found that the officers “do effectively reduce some levels of violence in schools but do not prevent shootings or gun-related incidents.”

Czopek listed numerous other studies that showed armed officers on campuses were not effective in deterring mass shootings and in some cases made the situation worse. It’s an excellent read, and I recommend you give it a look. I’m running out of space, so I’m going to conclude with a couple of things. In its ruling, Poynter found, in regards to Cruz’s claim:

“We know from past experiences that the most effective tool for keeping kids safe is armed law enforcement on campus.”

Poynter found that inaccurate.

A 2021 JAMA Network study said data found “no association between having an armed officer and deterrence of violence in mass shootings from 1980 to 2019. A 2021 study by the University at RAND said school resource officers ‘do not prevent school or gun-related incidences.”

“We rate this claim False.”

Of course, I don’t suppose the fact that Cruz has received more than $176,000 over the course of his career from the NRA could be influencing his decisions, could it?

And folks in the teacher’s union are just plain fed up. Understandably.

“We’re sick and tired of politicians and the NRA putting their warped interpretation of the Second Amendment above the lives of children,” AFT said in a statement. “It’s sick and wrong. Last week they were calling us groomers; they want to arm us as soldiers.”

Hopefully Cruz will start paying attention, but I have the feeling that as long as the NRA lines his pockets with money, he probably won’t.

meet the author

Megan has lived in California, Nevada, Arizona, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Florida and she currently lives in Central America. Living in these places has informed her writing on politics, science, and history. She is currently owned by 15 cats and 3 dogs and regularly owns Trump supporters when she has the opportunity. She can be found on Twitter at https://twitter.com/GaiaLibra and Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/politicalsaurus


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