After Friday’s shooting at Santa Fe High School, in which at least 10 people were killed and another 10 wounded, several of the state’s leading politicians — Gov. Greg Abbott, Sen. Ted Cruz, and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick — gave a press conference to talk about the tragedy.
It was a sober affair until Patrick took the mic.
The lieutenant governor, a social conservative firebrand who recently pushed to allow concealed carry in churches, listed off a series of what he called “outside the box” ideas for stopping school shootings. These included having students enter schools at different times (so there’d be fewer crowds to shoot at), parents doing a better job locking up their guns, and, most remarkably, limiting the number of doorways into schools.
“There are too many entrances and too many exits to our over 8,000 campuses,” Patrick said. “There aren’t enough people to put a guard at every entry and exit.”
TX Lt Gov Dan Patrick, a fierce opponent of gun control, says today's shooting may have been caused by Texas schools having "too many entrances and too many exits." pic.twitter.com/tLByRqL6oX— David Mack (@davidmackau) May 18, 2018
There are a number of practical problems with this idea. If you have a mass shooter in the building, you don’t want to trap people in the building. It’s not obvious that security guards would be able to spot someone concealing a weapon even if they were at every door; in fact, there were two armed guards at Santa Fe on Friday. And closing most of the entryways to a school would create a serious fire hazard.
More fundamentally, this all feels like an absurd kind of deflection. As my colleague German Lopez writes, the solutions to gun violence “aren’t a big mystery”: they’re gun control measures, like universal background checks and mandatory buybacks. There is a mountain of evidence that the best way to stop people from killing with guns is to stop them from getting guns in the first place.
A 2016 paper examined 130 different studies that spanned 10 different countries, including the United States. They found a clear pattern: When governments restrict access to firearms, the number of homicides and suicides declined. The community of credible experts on guns aren’t really in disagreement on this point.
But people like Patrick believe that people ought to have nearly unlimited rights to own guns and are unwilling to consider any restrictions on access. For that reason, he needs to find out some way to propose some kind of response to an obvious and horrific tragedy that doesn’t involve gun control.
Hence Patrick’s proposal to replace gun control with door control — as if a door was just used to kill 10 people in the state he leads.