It’s becoming increasingly clear these parents were failed by a federal and state system that could not fulfill its basic governing duty – ensuring the safety and well-being of their children, in this case from an 18-year-old who had legally bought a high-powered rifle that killed them in their classroom.
And it appears that those 19 dead children and two dead teachers were also failed by law enforcement officers, who waited one hour, 14 minutes and eight seconds to breach the classroom where the shooter wreaked his carnage, according to evidence that emerged at a harrowing hearing in the Texas state legislature on Tuesday.
The awful possibility is also emerging that some of the children could still be alive if police had followed mass shooter procedures recommended since the Columbine school massacre in 1999 to take down the assailant as soon as possible. It seems that the lives of police officers may have been prioritized ahead of those of defenseless kids.
The Uvalde parents are not the first mourning relatives to have been let down by governing institutions. It happened after the high school shooting in Parkland, Florida, in 2018, just as it did after the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre in Newtown, Connecticut, in 2012, when it seemed certain that the brutal killing of 20 young children and six adults would inevitably lead to changes to prevent more such massacres. But momentum dried up in Congress as the gun lobby mobilized to pile pressure on Republican senators as soon as the initial shock over the massacre began to ebb.
A decade on, some of those parents hope to see their long campaign for change at least partially validated in the next few days, with the US Senate poised to pass the first bipartisan firearms safety measure in nearly a generation, which was partially spurred by the Uvalde mass shooting.
But in a sign of the challenges facing gun safety advocates, the conservative majority on the US Supreme Court on Thursday struck down a century-old New York law that restricts the carrying of a concealed handgun outside the home. Local law enforcement officials in the Empire State and in other states with such measures had warned that such a ruling would worsen gun crime and cause more deaths.
Meanwhile, recriminations in Texas from a patchy and incomplete response to the Robb Elementary School horror are only growing.
After the legislative hearing in the state on Tuesday, at which the director of Texas’ Department of Public Safety, Col. Steve McCraw, called the local response to the May 24 massacre an “abject failure,” there are new accusations that state officials are leaking selectively to defray responsibility and make Uvalde officials look bad.
Uvalde Mayor Don McLaughlin said Tuesday that he was frustrated that he couldn’t get answers for parents and alleged: “Col. McCraw has continued to – whether you want to call it – lie, leak, mislead or misstate information in order to distance his own troopers and Rangers from the response.”
State Sen. Roland Gutierrez, who represents Uvalde County, has filed a lawsuit against the Department of Public Safety, meanwhile, accusing it of failing to produce public documents related to the shooting in a reasonable time.