State of Play

“The future’s uncertain
And the end is always near.” — Jim Morrison

One of the aspects of the Uvalde case that we have not really addressed here is the police response to the tragedy. There are any number of reasons for that. The first reason is that so many facts in the case seemed to be unverified. The governor himself seemed to be reporting on stuff that just wasn’t so.

Many of us have found it difficult to be impartial and fair in these moments and that’s another reason why I haven’t commented. To be perfectly fair, Abbott himself said he was misled by the police about their response. Obviously, there are any number of reasons why that could happen. In a frantic situation it can be difficult to keep tabs on everything that happened. It would help if the leadership involved weren’t trying to hide and obfuscate the truth.

Naturally, this allows people to believe the worst. While that would be satisfying given the governor, lieutenant governor, senator, and mayor’s response to Beto O’Rourke, we should remember that there are likely as many rumors on the negative side as on the positive side. For instance, it was reported that police went in and saved their own children without saving others. As it turned out, that wasn’t true for any of the on duty officers.

So at the end of the day, we know a few things. First, we know that the shooter went in through a back door (that was not propped open), we know parents begged officers to go in, and we know they did not go in for over an hour. We should probably take each of those points one at a time because each has been a huge part of this story.

It was initially reported that the shooter went through a door that had been propped open by a rock. The alleged teacher and her attorney have successfully disputed those claims. As it turned out, she closed the door and naturally assumed it was locked to those outside. Apparently, it wasn’t. This has brought on the calls from some prominent politicians that we need more door control.

As an aside, I went through this exercise with our daughter. We had her mentally track how many doors students could legally enter at her school and settled on four. We then asked her how many total points of entry there were and settled on fourteen. Keep in mind that there are 130,000 documented schools in the United States. Could you imagine the expense and manpower it would take to guard each of those doors (even just the legal ones) and to secure the rest?

Let’s pretend that your junior highs and high schools have two points of entry and exit and all the rest are successfully locked down. Let’s go with what Ted Cruz suggested and have one point of entry at the elementary schools. Mind you, this would violate fire code and present other possible dangers, but can you imagine the manpower we are talking to have an armed guard at each of those doors? We are talking about over 200,000 people.

The second fact we know is that parents begged to save their children and cops refused. Did they do the right thing? I obviously wasn’t there, haven’t had any combat training, and certainly haven’t game played through any hostage negotiations. Would there have been more dead had the police breached the school and engaged the shooter sooner? Would they have saved more lives doing that? We will never know on both counts. I’m sure experts will weigh in eventually, but the fact that they aren’t answering questions is a bit suspicious.

What is true in this light is how absurd an idea it is to arm teachers. I can count far too many reasons why this is an absolutely horrible idea. Let’s assume that the teacher is trained as those on the right have suggested. That alleviates only one concern. The second concern would be storage of the weapon. Do you want them to store it on their person or keep it secured somewhere in their classroom? What happens if they or that location is compromised?

Then we move onto the actual gaming of the mass shooter scenario. They may be trained to shoot, but are they trained in that specific scenario? What does SWAT do when they see an armed intruder AND armed teachers? What happens if a teacher has a mental breakdown and become the shooter themselves? Even in the best of cases we encountered a situation where trained police felt powerless to do anything. Whether they were negligent or justified is important but also very telling when you consider what you are asking untrained teachers to do.

In each and every scenario we are simply shouting out half-baked (and that’s generous) solutions to avoid the one solution we know is the best one. Is it the perfect one? Of course not. There is no perfect one. Perfect is the enemy of good. We will never have 100 percent control of our own personal destiny. There is always a non-zero chance the worst will occur and there always will be a non-zero chance no matter what we do. We start with the most obvious thing and move our way down from there. Restricting the gun is the most obvious thing. Door control, armed teachers, and armed soldiers sounds lovely but ultimately ineffective without doing the obvious thing.

Author: sbarzilla

I have written three books about baseball including The Hall of Fame Index. I also write for You can follow me on twitter @sbarzilla.

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