Several top Texas Republicans shared their thoughts and prayers after a gunman opened fire inside an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, on Tuesday, killing at least 19 children and two teachers. But the GOP lawmakers refused to support the possibility of any gun control measures as the nation reels in the wake of the worst school shooting since the Sandy Hook massacre in 2012.
Instead, the elected officials called for more armed teachers and even fortified schools meant to keep bad actors away from children, saying laws to limit access to firearms don’t work.
“Inevitably when there’s a murder of this kind, you see politicians try 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,” Sen. Ted Cruz (R) told reporters as parents waited for news of their missing children and provided DNA swabs to police to help identify the young victims. “That doesn’t work. It’s not effective. It doesn’t prevent crime.”
He went on to say that the “most effective” tool to keep kids safe in schools is more armed law enforcement on campuses.
Ted Cruz proposes armed cops in elementary schools to deter school shootings pic.twitter.com/sJ8B6cf9Xd
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) May 25, 2022
Police said the 18-year-old who attacked the school, identified as Salvador Ramos, was wearing body armor that made him more difficult to stop after he crashed his car through a barricade near Robb Elementary School. At least two law enforcement officers tried to engage him and were injured, The New York Times reported.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, who won his GOP primary to retain his position Tuesday, also said he would support more armed citizens in schools to protect children rather than common-sense gun reform.
“People that are shooting people, that are killing kids, they’re not following murder laws. They’re not going to follow gun laws,” Paxton said during an interview with Newsmax. “I’d much rather have law-abiding citizens armed and trained so that they can respond when something like this happens because it’s not going to be the last time.”
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton's immediate response to the latest gun massacre of elementary school children was to rush to the defense of the guns used to massacre those children. pic.twitter.com/4xl2txvmNr
— Craig Harrington (@Craigipedia) May 24, 2022
“We can’t stop bad people from doing bad things,” Paxton said later on Fox News. “We can potentially arm and prepare and train teachers and other administrators to respond quickly. That, in my opinion, is the best answer.”
President Joe Biden spoke to the nation in the hours after the attack, lambasting lawmakers for failing to take action on gun control after a steady drumbeat of shootings across the country.
“As a nation, we have to ask: When in God’s name are we gonna stand up to the gun lobby … do what we all know in our gut needs to be done?” Biden said from the White House. “Why are we willing to live with this carnage? Why do we keep letting this happen? Where in God’s name is our backbone?”
Texas Lt Gov Dan Patrick on the latest school shooting in Texas: "We have to harden these targets." pic.twitter.com/aG3sPGQzei
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) May 25, 2022
Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick (R) rejected those assertions in an interview with Tucker Carlson — who himself accused the president of “desecrating the memory” of the children killed in the attack — saying schools should be fortified to keep mass shooters out.
“Obviously we have to do more. We have to harden these targets so no one can get in ever except through one entrance. Maybe that would help. Maybe that would stop someone,” Patrick said. “But it’s really bigger than that, Tucker. We’re a coarse society. We’re a society that’s just at each other’s throats all the time. And we’re better than this as a nation.”
This article originally appeared on HuffPost and has been updated.