WASHINGTON ( Associated Press) — Speakers at the National Rifle Association’s (NRA) annual meeting have criticized an alleged gun ban in Chicago that doesn’t really exist, ignored improvements to security at the Texas school where several children were massacred days ago and distorted national statistics on guns and crime, in their attempts to oppose any tightened control on gun laws.
Here’s a look at some of those claims:
TEXAS SENATOR TED CRUZ: “Gun bans don’t work. Look at Chicago. If they worked, Chicago wouldn’t be the murder hell it’s been for far too long.”
THE REALITY: Chicago hasn’t had a game gun ban in over a decade. In 2014, a federal judge struck down a municipal ban on gun stores. Big NRA supporters like Cruz know this all too well, since it was the NRA that sued Chicago over its long-standing firearms ban and argued before the Supreme Court, which in 2010 found the ban unconstitutional.
FORMER PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: “Classroom doors should be reinforced so that they can be locked from the inside and locked against outside intruders.”
THE REALITY: Although it sounds like common sense, that could backfire horribly, experts warn.
A lock on the classroom door is one of the most basic and recommended school security measures, but in Uvalde it kept the victims locked in and the police out.
Nearly 20 police officers stood in a hallway next to the classrooms for more than 45 minutes before officers used a skeleton key to open the locked classroom.
In addition, Trump’s proposal does not take into account what would happen if students are trapped behind a closed door and one of the students is the aggressor.
CRUZ: “The firearms ownership rate has not changed.”
THE REALITY: That’s misleading. The percentage of households in the United States with at least one firearm has not changed significantly in the last 50 years, but the number of assault rifles, like the one used in the Uvalde school massacre and dozens of other similar attacks, it has skyrocketed since lawmakers let a ban on such weapons expire in 2004.
In the years up to and after the start of the ban, some 8.5 million AR-type assault rifles were in circulation in the United States. The National Shooting Sports Foundation estimated that there were 20 million such guns in circulation in 2020.
CRUZ: “If Uvalde had received a grant to improve the security of the school, they could have made changes that would have stopped the attacker and killed him there, before he hurt any of those innocent children and teachers.”
THE REALITY: That claim ignores the fact that Uvalde had doubled his school safety budget and spent years improving protections for children in schools.
None of that stopped the gunman from killing 19 students and two teachers.
The district’s annual budgets also show that the school system went from spending $204,000 in 2017 to $435,000 this year. The district had drawn up a safety plan in 2019 that included assigning each school four police officers and four mental health therapists. It had put up a fence and invested in software that monitors social media for threats and purchased software to screen visitors to schools.
The grant that Cruz says would have saved lives was from a failed 2013 bill that planned to help schools by hiring more police officers and installing bulletproof doors. The elementary school in Uvalde had a police officer, but the person was not on campus at the time of the attack. Additionally, Cruz’s call for bulletproof doors may not have been fruitful in this case, since the police were unable to break the locked door of the classroom in which the attacker killed children and teachers.