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Texas Republicans Go Full Christian Nationalist At Party Convention

"Texas Republican Convention calls Biden win illegitimate and rebukes Cornyn over gun talks" was first published by The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan media organization that informs Texans — and engages with them — about public policy, politics, government and statewide issues.

HOUSTON — Meeting at their first in-person convention since 2018, Texas Republicans on Saturday acted on a raft of resolutions and proposed platform changes to move their party even further to the right. They approved measures declaring that President Joe Biden “was not legitimately elected” and rebuking Sen. John Cornyn for taking part in bipartisan gun talks. They also voted on a platform that declares homosexuality “an abnormal lifestyle choice” and calls for Texas schoolchildren “to learn about the humanity of the preborn child.”

The actions capped a convention that highlighted how adamantly opposed the party’s most active and vocal members are to compromising with Democrats or moderating on social positions, even as the state has grown more diverse and Republicans’ margins in statewide elections have shrunk slightly in recent years.

Votes on the platform were collected at the end of the party's three-day convention in which party activists moved to add multiple items to the official Texas GOP platform. As the convention closed, two separate sets of ballots — one allowing delegates to choose eight of 15 legislative priorities and another allowing delegates to vote on the 275 platform planks — were gathered. Those will now need to be tallied and certified in Austin, but it is rare for a plank to be rejected, according to party spokesperson James Wesolek.

The convention reinforced the extent to which former President Donald J. Trump’s unfounded claims of a stolen election continue to resound among the party faithful — even though his claims have repeatedly been debunked, including by many of his own former aides, and after a week of televised hearings about the Trump supporters who stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.

The denunciation of Cornyn represented a remarkable rebuke to a Republican who has served in the Senate since 2002. The hall at the George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston filled with boos on Friday as he tried to explain the legislation, which would allow juvenile records to be incorporated into background checks for gun buyers younger than 21 and encourage “red flag” laws that would make it easier to remove guns from potentially dangerous people, along with more funding for school safety and mental health.

Meanwhile, the party platform vote on Saturday by roughly 5,100 convention delegates would argue that those under 21 are “most likely to need to defend themselves” and may need to quickly buy guns “in emergencies such as riots.” It also would say that red flag laws violate the due process rights of people who haven’t been convicted of a crime.

About 9,600 delegates and alternates were eligible to attend; organizers said turnout was a bit more than half that.

The new platform would call for:

  • Requiring Texas students “to learn about the humanity of the preborn child,” including teaching that life begins at fertilization and requiring students to listen to live ultrasounds of gestating fetuses.
  • Amending the Texas Constitution to remove the Legislature’s power “to regulate the wearing of arms, with a view to prevent crime.”
  • Treating homosexuality as “an abnormal lifestyle choice,” language that was not included in the 2018 or 2020 party platforms.
  • Deeming gender identity disorder “a genuine and extremely rare mental health condition,” requiring official documents to adhere to “biological gender,” and allowing civil penalties and monetary compensation to “de-transitioners” who have received gender-affirming surgery, which the platform calls a form of medical malpractice.
  • Changing the U.S. Constitution to cement the number of Supreme Court justices at nine and repeal the 16th Amendment of 1913, which created the federal income tax.
  • Ensuring “freedom to travel” by opposing Biden’s Clean Energy Plan and “California-style, anti-driver policies,” including efforts to turn traffic lanes over for use by pedestrians, cyclists and mass transit.
  • Declaring “all businesses and jobs as essential and a fundamental right,” a response to COVID-19 mandates by Texas cities that required customers to wear masks and limited business hours.
  • Abolishing the Federal Reserve, the nation’s central bank, and guaranteeing the right to use alternatives to cash, including cryptocurrencies.

Not every far-right proposal was advanced. The party chair, Matt Rinaldi, ruled that a motion to defend the due process rights of those who rioted at the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, and to “reject the narrative” that the riot was an insurrection was out of order and could not be voted on.

Taken together, the new provisions would represent a shift even further rightward for the Republican Party of Texas, once known as the party of Presidents George Bush and his son George W. Bush. Land Commissioner George P. Bush, a grandson and nephew of the two presidents, was defeated handily in May in his runoff race against Attorney General Ken Paxton, an arch-conservative who sued to challenge the 2020 election outcome and convinced voters that he was the truer Trump loyalist.

Party platforms are mission statements rather than legal doctrines and, in Texas, they have long reflected the opinions of the most activist wings of the parties. Republican elected officials are not bound to adhere to the platform, and party activists at times have expressed frustration that some parts of their platform and legislative priorities have not become law, despite complete Republican control of the state Legislature.

But the platforms are broad indicators of the sentiments of the most active Republican voters — those who dominate party primaries. Republicans have controlled every statewide elected office in Texas since 1999 and both houses of the Legislature since 2003, so the wishes of the party’s populist, pro-Trump base inevitably affect actions taken in Austin.

“The platform is largely symbolic but important as a measure of ideological drift,” said Brandon Rottinghaus, a political scientist at the University of Houston. “Party platforms are often used as a cudgel in party primaries. A more muscular ideological platform eventually leads to a more conservative legislature as challengers knock off more moderate members.”

The convention was noteworthy for the relatively low profile of top officeholders. Gov. Greg Abbott, who is seeking a third term in the November election, only appeared at a reception on Thursday on the sidelines of the convention. Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who effectively controls the state Senate, addressed the convention, but House Speaker Dade Phelan only spoke at a luncheon, not to the main body of delegates.

Tensions within the party at times got personal. Video posted online showed far-right activists physically accosting U.S. Rep. Dan Crenshaw, calling the conservative Republican “eye-patch McCain” over his criticism of Russia. The group included self-identified Proud Boys and Alex Stein, a social media activist from North Texas. A Navy SEAL veteran, Crenshaw lost his right eye to a bomb in Afghanistan.

“A more aggressive party platform sends a clear message to politicians about where the base is going,” Rottinghaus said. “Donald Trump radicalized the party and accelerated the demands from the base. There simply aren’t limits now on what the base might ask for.”

Mark P. Jones, a political scientist at Rice University in Houston, said the 2022 platform indicated how emboldened hard-right party activists now feel — a far cry from 2020. Significant gains by Texas Democrats in state House elections in 2018 raised the prospect of the Republican Party losing its dominant status in Texas, making it moderate its platform in 2020 to focus on bread-and-butter issues. Texas Republicans did well in the 2020 elections — even though Biden won 46.5% of the Texas vote, the highest proportion for a Democrat since 1976 — and this year, culture-war issues were once again at front and center.

Jones said that Republican redistricting has made incumbents safer and less inclined to appeal to moderates. Moreover, inflation, the risk of a recession, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and growing acrimony over race, gender and sexuality make it seem increasingly likely that Democrats will lose the U.S. House in the November midterm elections.

“As a result, the 2022 GOP feels free to veer to the right to its heart’s content, confident that it won’t come back to haunt the party in November, except perhaps in a half dozen races,” Jones said. “And even the party’s pragmatic center right conservatives lack the ability to argue, as they did successfully in 2020, that an ultra conservative platform could cost the GOP its majority status in the Lone Star State. This year, even the absolute worst case scenario has the GOP winning statewide, increasing its number of U.S. House seats, boosting its Texas Senate majority by a seat, and maintaining the 83 seats it held in the 2021 Texas House.”

Before delegates voted on the platform, party activists delivered fiery speeches attacking Democrats.

“They want to destroy the racial progress we have made by saying that we are a racist nation,” said Robin Armstrong, a Black doctor in Texas City who treated COVID patients with unapproved drug therapies touted by Trump, including hydroxychloroquine. “The Democratic Party are now a party of chaos. They benefit from causing us to question the foundations that this country was built upon. The misery, the crime, the drug abuse, the high gas prices are all by design, so that the Democratic Party can permanently transform society. We Texans cannot and we will not allow this to happen.”

The Republican-dominated Legislature last year passed new voting restrictions that prompted Democratic lawmakers to flee to Washington to break quorum in an ultimately futile protest. However, Republican leaders said repeatedly on Saturday that it was the other side that was a threat to fair elections.

“The Democrats wants three things: Their goals are to steal elections, suppress Republican votes and federalize elections,” said Cindy Siegel, the chairperson of the Harris County GOP and a former mayor of Bellaire.

Immigration continued to be a major theme, with delegates lamenting Biden’s reversal of Trump-era border policies. U.S. Rep. Jodey Arrington, of Lubbock, described an “unprecedented, unmitigated, self-inflicted disaster that is creating the worst humanitarian and national security threat to the American people in the history of our southern border,” adding, “this is an invasion, folks.”

“President Biden has ceded control of our borders to paramilitary, narco-terrorist cartels,” Arrington told delegates.

The mood of this convention was not hopeful. The themes ran dark, and activists spoke in apocalyptic, even cataclysmic, terms about the state of the country.

“Everything is topsy-turvy. What’s right is wrong and what’s wrong is right,” said state Sen. Donna Campbell, an emergency room doctor in New Braunfels, reflecting a state of uncertainty that is shared by Americans of many political backgrounds, even if they don’t agree on the causes. “Our country is on a trajectory to self-destruct, unless we change the direction.”

Campbell and other activists frequently spoke of their Christian faith.

“I believe that in the sovereignty of God, you and I were purposely born into this moment, into this confusing time that we face,“ Campbell said. “We’re meant to be alive, at this time, right now, and here in this state.”

Disclosure: Rice University and University of Houston have been financial supporters of The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan news organization that is funded in part by donations from members, foundations and corporate sponsors. Financial supporters play no role in the Tribune's journalism. Find a complete list of them here.

This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune at

Reprinted with permission from Alternet.

Abbott Orders Weekly School Door Checks, Not Gun Safety Reforms

Texas Republican Gov. Greg Abbott on Thursday announced his proposals for preventing mass shootings in schools — none of which is related to firearms.

While polling shows voters are clamoring for such changes to gun laws as strengthening background checks, keeping guns out of the hands of people judged to be a danger to themselves or others, and limiting high-capacity ammunition magazines, Abbott instead ordered weekly door checks at schools across Texas.

In a letter to Mike Morath, the commissioner of the Texas Education Agency, Abbott laid out his ideas in the wake of the May 24 mass shooting at an elementary school in Uvalde in the southern part of the state, in which 19 fourth graders and two teachers were gunned down by an 18-year-old who was able to legally purchase two AR-15-style semi-automatic rifles in the week between his birthday and the day he brought one to the school.

A statement released by Abbott's office sets forth the governor's expectations:

Governor Abbott specifically requested TEA to:

  • instruct school districts to identify actions they can take prior to the start of the new school year that will make their campuses more secure
  • instruct all school districts to conduct weekly inspections of exterior doors to verify they are secure during school hours
  • develop strategies to encourage school districts to increase the presence of trained law enforcement officers and school marshals on campuses

In Texas and elsewhere, Republican lawmakers have focused on so-called "door control" in the wake of the Uvalde shooting, blaming the fact that the gunman was able to get into the school rather than the fact that he was able to legally purchase a weapon that can cause mass carnage in a matter of seconds.

Those same Republicans have eschewed any attempt to pass gun reform laws that would strengthen background checks, raise the minimum age for purchasing semi-automatic rifles, or temporarily prevent people who are deemed a danger to themselves or others from possessing firearms.

"The point of 'door control' is the same as 'arm teachers' or 'mental health' — they don't really believe these things will solve the problem, the point is to distract us," Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA) tweeted. "It's Republican Politicianese for 'hey look over there!' Stay focused: the problem is the guns."

Polling shows that voters overwhelmingly support gun law reform.

A Pew Research survey from 2021 found more than half of American adults, or 53 percent, support stricter gun laws. Specific reforms garner even more support, with 87 percent supporting a law that would prevent people with mental illnesses from buying guns; 81 percent supporting closing gun background check loopholes; 64 percent supporting bans on high-capacity ammunition magazines; and 63 percent supporting a ban on assault-style weapons.

President Joe Biden called for gun safety measures in a speech Thursday night, which he prefaced by saying:

According to new data just released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, guns are the number one killer of children in the United States of America. The number one killer. More than car accidents. More than cancer.

Over the last two decades, more school-aged children have died from guns than on-duty police officers and active-duty military combined. Think about that: more kids than on-duty cops killed by guns, more kids than soldiers killed by guns.

For God's sake, how much more carnage are we willing to accept? How many more innocent American lives must be taken before we say "enough"? Enough.

Meanwhile, House Democrats plan to hold votes on gun reform legislation upon their return from recess next week.

The House Judiciary Committee advanced H.R. 7910, the Protecting Our Kids Act, out of committee Thursday night. The bill would raise the minimum age for purchasing semi-automatic guns from 18 to 21; require gun owners to safely store firearms in their homes; ban high-capacity ammunition magazines that hold more than 10 rounds; and address gun trafficking by requiring serial numbers on guns.

The legislation is supported by Giffords, the gun violence prevention organization launched by former Rep. Gabby Giffords.

"THIS is what action looks like," Giffords tweeted after the committee advanced the bill.

During a mark-up hearing on H.R. 7910, Republicans voiced their opposition.

Rep. Greg Steube of Florida, appearing via Zoom from his home, showed off the guns he owns and complained that banning high-capacity magazines would inconvenience him by forcing him to buy different ammunition. Gun experts said Steube could easily buy different ammunition that would fit his weapons.

Rep. Ken Buck, Republican of Colorado, said, "In rural Colorado, an AR-15 is a gun of choice for killing raccoons before they get to our chickens."

Responded California Democratic Rep. Eric Swalwell: "Oh—Why didn't y'all just say so? We have to protect the chickens from the raccoons. Cool cool. So that's why our kids have to die in their classrooms. So we can protect the chickens. Makes total sense now."

Reprinted with permission from American Independent.

Ted Cruz Decries ‘Elites’ For Hiring Private Security — Just Like He Does

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) is complaining about liberal "elites" acquiring personal security but there is just one problem with his latest rant. According to The Daily Beast, it is highly hypocritical because he also has security.

The Texas senator made the controversial remarks when he appeared at the National Rifle Association’s annual convention on Friday, May 27. At the time, Cruz ranted about liberal “elites” who advocate for gun control while hiding behind “private security.”

However, the Beast has shed light on Cruz's itemized expenses highlighting the cost his campaign has paid for security since October 2022.

"Since October 2020, the Cruz campaign has paid Houston-area executive protection firm Atlas Glinn nearly half a million dollars to protect himself and his family—$499,661, almost all of it in monthly lump sums averaging around $30,000, according to federal disclosures. (The Atlas Glinn website features a photo of a security detail guarding Cruz in a parade car.)"

In fact, Cruz is considered the biggest Republican spender where the cost of security is concerned. However, data compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics, also indicates that he receives the most monetary support from pro-gun law advocacy groups. Behind Cruz's spending are three Democratic lawmakers. Sens. Mark Kelly (D-AZ), Jon Ossoff (D-GA), and Rep. Cori Bush (D-MO) have all spent at least $300,000 on security. According to financial statements, Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA) has reported approximately $122,000 in security expenses.

Speaking to the Beast, Swalwell explained his reason for incorporating security. As manager of former President Donald Trump's second impeachment trial, the California Democrat faced numerous threats and personal attacks from Trump supporters.

“As the father to three children in diapers, I’m especially mindful of my kids’ security. Since Fox News [broadcast] footage of my home and numeric street address on-air in December 2020, my children have been limited in their ability to play out front. To protect my family, on some occasions we have hired trained security professionals,” Swalwell said.

“I do not oppose guns. I like guns. I enjoy shooting,” he continued. “And the security professionals I have hired are trained.”

“What I don’t like,” Swalwell continued, “is a country of unrestricted weaponry that allows the most dangerous weapons to end up in the hands of the most dangerous people. We can still be a country that allows its citizens to shoot for sport, hunt with your kids, and protect your home and not allow weapons of mass destruction to mow down our children.”

When asked about the campaign expenses, Cruz's spokesperson spoke with the Beast and insisted that he has faced an onslaught of death threats.

“Senator Cruz has received thousands of death threats from angry Leftists and there are several individuals being prosecuted by the Department of Justice because of threats on the Senator as we speak. If you don’t think that is a legitimate reason for security you should probably have your head checked,” the spokesperson said. “Senator Cruz supports the Second Amendment right of every law-abiding Texan and American adult to protect themselves.”

Reprinted with permission from Alternet.

Far Right Issues Flood Of Violent Rhetoric On LGBTQ Community

A week’s worth of gun violence seems to have whetted the radical right’s eliminationist appetite—and much of it appears, once again, to be directed at the LGBTQ community:

  • In El Paso, Texas, after far-right trolls spread the bogus claim that a transgender person was the shooter in Tuesday’s massacre in Uvalde, thugs verbally and physically assaulted a transgender girl, calling her a “mental health freak.”
  • Further north in Arlington, a local pastor this week denounced the city’s support for its annual Pride events, claiming the Bible calls “homosexuals” criminals who should be put to death.
  • In Arizona, far-right troll Ethan Schmidt-Crockett posted videos in which he threatened to attack Pride displays at Target stores (as he’s done previously), and then filmed himself harassing workers at a JoAnn Fabrics store for their Pride display.

The mood at far-right chat rooms has grown more openly violent as well, particularly as white nationalists have embraced the Buffalo shooter and his eliminationist “replacement theory” motives—and the threatening rhetoric around Pride events such as the one planned in northern Idaho in June has sharpened. As this recent study warned, the previous year’s relative calm in terms of far-right violence is manifestly over.

Although the viciously bogus claim that the Uvalde shooter was transgender was quickly debunked, and several of its more prominent spreaders—such as Arizona Congressman Paul Gosar—deleted their tweets making the claim, it continued to spread anyway on social media, enjoying a robust zombie half-life as the trolls spreading it made plain that they didn’t care if it was a lie: They just wanted to scapegoat transgender people.

Moreover, its most prominent spreader—race troll Candace Owens—not only refused to delete the earlier tweets, but doubled down to her 3 million-plus Twitter followers:

FYI: The media still has not debunked the photo of the Texas shooter wearing female clothes (to which I was referring.)Instead they are trying to conflate it with the obvious internet hoax photos featuring a guy in a skirt in front of a trans flag.

No such photos exist, of course. The person she’s describing wearing female clothes in the widely circulated photos identified herself and denounced the hoax.

This didn’t stop the inevitable result of this kind of eliminationist rhetoric, either, whose entire purpose is to create permission for brutal violence directed at the rhetoric’s targets. In El Paso, it clearly inspired the men outside the city library, who first verbally and then physically assaulted a 17-year-old transgender girl named Tracey as she exited at the end of a night doing homework.

“Oh look, it has a dick,” said one of them. He then grabbed her arm and forced her to look at him as he said: “Yeah, you know they’re perverting kids instead of killing them.”

“I’m only 17!” she answered.

Another man sneered: “Yeah, you know it was one of your sisters who killed those kids. You’re a mental health freak!”

Tracey was able to escape on her bicycle. El Paso Police refused to take an assault report. She also is no longer able to talk to her counselor at a community clinic, after it shut its doors to trans teens when Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton made a legal finding that supporting transition is child abuse.

Meanwhile, in Arlington earlier this week, the pastor of a nearby Baptist church—one that has been designated a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC)—denounced the city’s upcoming Pride events at a city council meeting, calling it an “abomination”:

I don’t understand why we celebrate what used to be a crime not long ago. In fact, Texas Penal Code, in Section 21.06, homosexual conduct, a person commits an offense if he engages in deviant sexual intercourse with another individual of the same sex. In fact, that is still on the books today, even though Lawrence vs. Texas overruled that in 2003. But God has already ruled that murder, adultery, witchcraft, bestiality, and homosexuality are crimes worthy of capital punishment.

The pastor, Jonathan Shelley, is from Stedfast Baptist Church in nearby Hurst. The SPLC designated Stedfast Baptist an anti-LGBTQ hate group in 2021, based largely on Shelley’s incendiary rhetoric. The church recently was evicted from its building in Hurst because Shelley’s violent rhetoric violated his lease, and the owner refused to tolerate it.

In his sermons, Shelley has frequently called for death to members of the LGBTQ community, but he claims he’s not calling for vigilante killings—he only wants it done officially, at the hands of the state. In one sermon, he celebrated the death of a 75-year-old gay man in Wilton Manors, Florida, after a vehicle accidentally ran him over during a Pride event: “And, you know, it’s great when trucks accidentally go through those, you know, parades,” he said. “I think only one person died. So hopefully we can hope for more in the future.”

“You say, ‘Well, that’s mean.’ Yeah, but the Bible says that they’re worthy of death!” he continued. “They say, ‘Are you sad when fags die?’ No. I think it’s great! I hope they all die! I would love it if every fag would die right now.”

“And you say, ‘Well, I don’t think that’s what you really mean.’ That’s exactly what I mean. I really mean it!”

The same kind of vicious hatred also clearly animates Schmidt-Crockett in his Arizona jihad against commercial Pride displays. A longtime antimasking/anti-LGBTQ activist and troll who has a large following on Telegram, where he posts his deliberately provocative videos, Schmidt-Crockett this week has launched into making threats against stores that carry Pride celebration materials and displays—particularly Target, where he previously filmed himself taking down a Pride display, calling it “disgusting … it’s devil worship.”

He’s also posted videos and texts saying he’s “going hunting for LGBT pedophiles” and “non binaries,” saying ominously: “We’re hunting for you.” He also recently turned up as part of a white-nationalist “Groyper” contingent acting as violent counter-protesters at a Phoenix abortion rights protest.

This week, Schmidt-Crockett became primarily focused on stores with Pride displays. He first posted a video of himself threatening to harass Target stores in Arizona, claiming they were erecting “satanic pride shrines to children” in their stores, and claiming he and “my buddy Kyle” would be “exposing all the employees that support it.”

“We’re going to make massive scenes in every single Target store across Phoenix, Arizona, and we’re not going to let corporate poison the children,” Schmidt vowed in the video, posted on Twitter by Patriot Takes.

Schmidt told Target officials to “just perma-ban” him, because he intended to step up his confrontations to an entirely new level for Pride Month in June.

“So Target, just giving you a heads up, that we’ll be coming after you hard. Hard,” Schmidt promised. “You know, I’ve already exposed you guys pretty good, but this is going to be next-level stuff.”

He added: "If you support the LGBT agenda, you're not safe."

Phoenix police posted a vague tweet about the situation that seemed to create even more confusion: “We are aware of a video on social media that names a retail store. We are looking into this. Statements in the video may be concerning to members of our community. The store and it's security team are also aware of the video.”

On Thursday, Schmidt-Crockett posted a video of himself (again nabbed by Patriot Takes) entering a JoAnn Fabrics store and harassing its staff over the Pride materials on sale there. Muttering to his audience that the materials somehow promoted pedophilia, he began haranguing the clerk who answered his summons: “Does JoAnn Fabrics support pedophilia?” He describes his disgust after the clerk goes to summon security: “Pedophilia, I’m sick of it everywhere. Every single corporate store has been taken over by the agenda.”

As he departs, he points his finger at the clerk: “Pedophiles!” he says. “You guys support the LGBT agenda! You guys support pedophilia! JoAnn Fabrics supports pedophilia!”

The shift to a focus targeting the LGBTQ community with eliminationist rhetoric and then violence is the result of several long-term trends on the radical right, particularly as its street-level strategies have shifted after the January 6 insurrection. A recent study by the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (ACLED) warns of a looming likelihood that far-right organizing will revolve around LGBTQ events and political rallies in the near future:

As an election year with midterms as well as a number of key gubernatorial races, 2022 is likely to see a rise in organizing focused on the upcoming votes. There have already been examples of protests involving ‘Freedom Convoys’ expressing support for Trump and including voter registration opportunities at events, signaling the start of this evolution.

In addition to election-related mobilization, there may also be a resurgence of other recent drivers as well. With Republican officials launching a new anti-LGBT+ legislative push around the country, mobilization against LGBT+ rights may increase, even though coordinated organizing on this issue has not been a major feature of the political violence and protest landscape in which far-right militias and MSMs have engaged in recent years. Broader activity on the right is currently coalescing around the reinvigorated anti-LGBT+ legislative campaign, in addition to organizing against institutions and companies seen as ‘too supportive’ of LGBT+ rights.

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos.

Why School Safety Schemes Proposed By Trump And Cruz Are Worthless

As people in Uvalde and across the country groped for solutions in response to the latest mass school shooting, Texas Republican officials pointed, again, to school doors.

“Have one door into and out of the school, and have ... armed police officers at that door,” U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz said on Fox News the day after a gunman killed 19 elementary school students and two teachers.

On Tuesday, an 18-year-old armed with an assault rifle entered Robb Elementary School through a back door and opened fire on fourth grade students and teachers, according to state officials. The director of the Texas Department of Public Safety said Friday that the back door had been propped open by a teacher minutes before the shooting began.

Texas’ lieutenant governor has echoed the idea of locking all but one door of a school. And Cruz and former President Donald Trump repeated the call for single-entry schools at the National Rifle Association convention in Houston on Friday.

“We also know that there are best practices at federal buildings and courthouses, where for security reasons they limit the means of entry to one entrance,” Cruz said at the convention. “Schools, likewise, should have a single point of entry. Fire exits should only open out. At that single point of entry, we should have multiple armed police officers. Or if need be, military veterans trained to provide security and keep our children safe.”

But limiting schools to one access point is not a proposal grounded in reality, according to several school and safety experts.

Many schools have thousands of children, teachers and staff who could take hours to funnel in and out of a single entrance every day. Even more use portable buildings or have multiple buildings, with children and staff often moving among them. Not to mention that renovations to older schools, which officials say typically have more exterior entrances, put a heavy burden on local taxpayers.

“It is not feasible to think we’re going to ever get to the point where we have one door in and one door out,” said Bill Avera, chief of police and emergency manager for the Jacksonville Independent School District in East Texas and a board member of the Texas School Safety Center.

And while many districts sought to increase school security in the aftermath of Texas’ last mass school shooting in Santa Fe in 2018, teachers’ advocates and school officials fault state leaders for focusing on further “hardening” schools after the Uvalde shooting.

“The other elements of school safety are harder conversations to have either politically or because we just know less about it — for instance, mental health,” said Brian Woods, superintendent of Northside ISD in San Antonio. “But just because they’re harder conversations doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t have them, and it doesn’t mean we should restrict the conversation to hardening.”

After the Santa Fe High School shooting, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick also blamed school infrastructure, saying there were “too many entrances and too many exits to our more than 8,000 campuses in Texas.”

On Friday, Cruz said it was maddening that “the shooter in Uvalde got in the exact same way the Santa Fe shooter did. He walked through an unlocked back door into an open classroom.” He called for “serious funding” to install bulletproof doors and locking classroom doors.

Architects already try to limit entryways and design schools to guide students and visitors to one main front entrance, but more than one door is necessary for fire safety and to carry out school operations, said Bill Bradley, a school design expert with Stantec Architecture and chair of the Association for Learning Environments.

A school, for example, may need additional entrances to use a school gymnasium for sports, community events or voting booths without opening up the entire school to the public, Bradley said.

“Let’s say you had a high school that had 3,000 students, and you’re going to use one entry point to bring those students into that building every day,” Avera said. “That’s going to literally double the amount of time it takes to get folks in that building.”

Schools also have to account for staff and deliveries for things like lunch items and classroom materials, Avera said.

As school districts grow, their campuses sometimes sprawl with multiple buildings or portables, making a single entrance impossible.

At San Antonio’s Northside ISD, district leaders had to add gyms in exterior buildings to elementary schools initially built without them, said Woods, the superintendent. He estimated about half of the district’s 125 campuses also use portables to avoid cramping in students or to deal with population growth.

To increase safety, school districts can arm school entrances with access-control technology that automatically locks doors from the outside and requires key cards. In the Jacksonville school district, Avera can remotely lock the district’s exterior doors from his phone, but it’s an expensive investment.

“You’re talking about anywhere from $700 to $1,000, $1,500 a door to outfit them,” he said, noting the technology also requires a robust internet and cable network. “So you could see it could get to be very expensive very quickly.”

Secured entryways should still allow individuals to leave a school in situations such as fire, Avera said.

Today, school officials are increasingly paying to build or retrofit schools to require visitors to go through two entrances or a front office, where people are often screened.

In Northside, Woods said, the district added “ballistic security lobbies” at its elementary schools without a full-time district police officer. He said the district has slowly sought to rebuild or renovate older schools, which typically have more exterior doors because classrooms often needed to prop doors open for air flow when schools lacked air conditioning.

“Of course they lived in a very different security environment at that time,” he said.

But building renovations and security upgrades cost much more than the money the district got from the state funds parceled out after the Santa Fe shooting, he said. Luckily, he said, his community has regularly approved local bond measures to make schools more secure.

“That would not be a true statement everywhere,” he added.

Indoors, some experts recommend locking classroom doors, but it can be a tedious requirement when students have to go to the restroom or leave for other activities.

“It’s hard to have a hard fast rule about locking doors,” Avera said. “It is best practice and it’s highly recommended, but there are a lot of circumstances, again, that you can’t always plan for that might cause a need not to have the door locked.”

School leaders can’t only focus on making schools impenetrable fortresses, Bradley said. Studies have shown that school environments and access to natural light can impact learning outcomes, he said, and creating visibility within schools can help staff identify threats from a distance.

“These are still schools, and we want them to be exciting and inviting for students,” he said.

The focus on the “physical engineering” of schools also will not address the more common gun violence that affects children outside of schools, said Jagdish Khubchandani, a professor of public health at New Mexico State University who has studied school violence.

“We’re just not going to the foundation of the issue. We’re just planting a Band-Aid solution,” he said.

"Trump and Cruz propose “hardened” one-door schoolhouses. Experts say that’s not a credible solution." was first published by The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan media organization that informs Texans — and engages with them — about public policy, politics, government and statewide issues.

Abbott Attended Campaign Fundraiser Hours After Uvalde Massacre

Less than two weeks after a gunman fatally shot ten people in a supermarket in Buffalo, New York, the United States suffered yet another mass shooting when, on Tuesday, May 24, a gunman killed at least 21 people in an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas — including 19 children. And hours after that massacre, according to the Dallas Morning News, Gov. Greg Abbott attended a campaign fundraising event in East Texas.

The event was held at a time when other Texas officials were canceling similar events because of the Uvalde tragedy. Abbott, who has been endorsed by former President Donald Trump and is seeking a third term, recently defeated challengers in Texas’ 2022 GOP gubernatorial primary — and he is now competing with Democratic gubernatorial nominee Beto O’Rourke, a former congressman and 2020 presidential candidate, in the general election.

In an official statement on Wednesday, May 25, Mark Miner — a spokesman for Abbott’s reelection campaign — announced, “All campaign and political activity, including a scheduled fundraiser for this evening, have (been) postponed until further notice.” But Miner, according to Dallas Morning News reporter Allie Morris, “did not answer questions about” why Abbott “went ahead with the East Texas event.”

“Jeff Bradley of Huntsville confirmed hosting the fundraiser for Abbott, but offered no further details,” Morris reports. “It’s not clear who was in attendance or how long the event lasted. The governor showed up after holding a press conference in Abilene, where he briefed the public on wildfires in the area and the shooting.”

O’Rourke has been highly critical of Abbott’s response to the Uvalde tragedy. At a press conference on May 25, O’Rourke told him, “Gov. Abbott, I have to say something…. The time to stop the next shooting is right now, and you are doing nothing.”

Reprinted with permission from Alternet.

Uvalde Police Facing Questions Over Inaction During School Massacre

Barely days after 19 elementary school children and two teachers were shot to death by an 18-year old with two AR-15 style assault rifles, questions are swirling about the actions of local law enforcement, supported by video and photos apparently taken by those who were outside Robb Elementary School during the massacre.

“Frustrated onlookers urged police officers to charge into the Texas elementary school where a gunman’s rampage killed 19 children and two teachers, witnesses said Wednesday, as investigators worked to track the massacre that lasted upwards of 40 minutes and ended when the 18-year-old shooter was killed by a Border Patrol team,” the Associated Press reports.

“Go in there! Go in there!” nearby women shouted at the officers soon after the attack began, said Juan Carranza, 24, who saw the scene from outside his house, across the street from Robb Elementary School in the close-knit town of Uvalde. Carranza said the officers did not go in.

Multiple reports state police waited outside for those 40 minutes, or more, before taking action to neutralize the shooter. During that time, some have noted, it’s possible children who had been shot died of their wounds rather than receiving medical attention.

CNN’s Chief National Security Correspondent Jim Sciutto:

Veteran journalist Soledad O’Brien:

Indeed, additional reports appear to show not only did police not storm the school, for reasons yet unknown, they appear to have prevented desperate parents from doing anything to help save their children, even using force, including a taser, to stop them. And in one case (below,) from the account of one of the children who survived published by CBS affiliate KENS5, police action may have led to the death of one of the students.

VICE News reports: “Texas law enforcement officials are being strangely opaque about what actually happened during the shooting at Robb Elementary in Uvalde, Texas.”

“When asked how much time passed between the gunman arriving at the school and the gunman being killed, Texas’ Director of Public Safety Steve McCraw offered an indefinite response.”

“Forty minutes, an hour,” he said. “But I don’t want to give you a particular timeline.”

VICE adds that “officers ‘were responsible’ for containing the gunman in a classroom, McCraw said. (Spokespersons for the Texas Department of Public Safety had repeatedly told news outlets earlier that the suspect barricaded himself into the classroom and immediately started shooting.)”

NBC News correspondent covering national security and intelligence Ken Dilanian:

Matt Novak, a senior writer at the tech site Gizmodo, posted these tweets:

This one is tragic:

Sawyer Hackett, a senior advisor to Julián Castro, the former Obama HUD Secretary and former Mayor of San Antonio, Texas, reposted these videos and offers some commentary:

Even this editor from the right wing website Daily Caller says “it appears the police did everything wrong once the shooter was in the room.”

Reprinted with permission from Alternet.

Fox Hypes Bogus ‘Experts’ And Ineffective Responses To School Shootings

Fox News responded to the school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, by interviewing experts who pushed controversial, counterproductive models to reduce gun violence in schools. One of these experts advocated for introducing more weapons into schools through arming teachers and staff, a policy firmly rejected by teachers unions and researchers. Another called for increased active shooter response trainings-- a service his company provides -- which have also been found to be ineffective at preventing casualties.

As news out of Uvalde was still developing, Fox News’ Jesse Watters invited Laura Carno -- the executive director of FASTER Colorado, which advocates for arming school staff -- on his show, where she compared arming teachers and other school personnel to arming pilots. “We all feel really comfortable with the armed pilot program, where some pilots are armed on some flights,” Carno said. “We don't know which ones, and we feel pretty good about that. It's a very similar kind of thing to armed school staff programs.”

Whatever the relative merits of arming pilots, it’s patently obvious that a classroom is fundamentally different from a locked and sealed cockpit. There is a litany of examples of guns being mishandled in schools, both by on-grounds cops — known as security resource officers — as well as teachers and staff, according to the Giffords Law Center. The center also found that an overwhelming percentage of students, teachers, and parents oppose arming school staff.

Both major teachers unions, the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) and the National Education Association (NEA), also oppose the idea. There’s also a strong argument to be made that Black and Latino students would be put at increased risk with the introduction of more guns, as they are the students who are more likely to be punished than white students for the same behavior.

Watters also invited Chad Ayers, vice president of the Proactive Response Group, to discuss the shooting. Proactive provides active shooter response trainings to “workplaces, religious establishments, and schools,” which it calls “the true first line of defense.” Ayers used the occasion to suggest students are not doing enough to identify “early warning signs” to stop such shootings, arguing that “kids are afraid of being the school snitch.”

“We have to do a better job training,” Ayers added, implicitly advocating for more active shooter response trainings. “Showing a 5-minute video at the beginning of the school year to the teachers is not getting the job done.”

A recent study conducted by Everytown, an anti-gun violence organization, alongside the AFT and NEA, “concluded that there is almost no research affirming the value of active shooter drills for preventing school shootings or protecting the school community when shootings do occur.”

Other research has found that “anxiety, stress, and depression increased by 39–42% following the drills.” This study concluded that the findings, “paired with the lack of strong evidence that drills save lives, suggests that proactive school safety strategies may be both more effective, and less detrimental to mental health, than drills.” The nation’s largest for-profit active shooter training provider, ALICE Training Institute, regularly overstated its program’s efficacy, according to an investigation from The Trace.

Although there’s little evidence to show that active shooter response trainings are effective, there’s plenty of incentives for cops and former cops to push them as the primary response. The school safety industry was reportedly a $2.7 billion market in 2018, with some training programs running as high as $56,000 for the initial round and $25,000 for training renewals.

Fox News has a history of advocating flawed responses to school shootings. In 2015, a Fox & Friends segment demonstrated how students should rush a shooter, without making it clear that such an action should only be taken as a last resort.

Fox News wasn’t the only example of right-wing media pushing these flawed responses. Fox News competitor Newsmax interviewed at least one active shooter response trainer as well, and conservative pundit Erick Erickson endorsed FASTER in a tweet.

The United States accounts for about 40 percent of the world’s civilian-owned guns, even though it has about five percent of the global population. In 2019, the United States spent $123 billion on police. More guns and more funding to law enforcement and their private contractor partners is not the answer. Effective measures, such as early intervention, decreasing access to guns, and increasing the number of counselors and mental health professionals in schools, would likely do far more to reduce gun violence at school than doubling down on security theater.

In the longer term, the most effective way to reduce this kind of violence is to take aim at the root, which would mean radically lessening the number of guns on the streets, including those carried by police officers.

But don’t expect to hear any of that on Fox News.

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters.