A makeshift memorial outside Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, on May 25, 2022. (Yasin Ozturk/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

TGIF: A Week We'd Rather Forget

Looking hard for good news amidst impossible sadness.

It was such a sad week. So I kept it a bit shorter than usual and was sure to bring you good news where possible.  

→ A shooter kills 19 children in Texas: Please read Bar’s piece on this, since that was the best thing we can say about the horror in Uvalde.

One curious note is that even though Democrats control Congress and the White House, there is still only hesitant movement around gun control legislation, an indication of just how badly reform efforts do in a vote. Asked about it, Sen. Chuck Schumer said that Americans can cast their votes in November. Mitch McConnell is apparently encouraging some sort of bipartisan gun law conversation. But even if common sense reforms were already on the books in Texas (background checks, waiting periods, etc), it’s unclear how anything except a total ban on AR rifles would have stopped the Uvalde shooter. He bought the guns legally and though he was apparently known for getting in fights and being a jerk with a BB gun, he had no prior criminal record.

Now there are calls for “hardening” schools, putting in better door policies (sure, yes) and better security at schools (again, that sounds good). But I just keep coming back to the Founders and imagining what they might have thought of our current predicament—cheap guns powerful beyond their imaginations in hands dumber than they could conceive of, slung over the skinny arms of disaffected small town teenagers and ensuring weekend slaughter in high-crime inner cities. 

Nothing about this is right.

→ Why was the shooter inside for 40 minutes? With the killer alive, inside that fourth grade classroom, the police worked furiously . . . outside the school. According to emerging reports, their focus was on the parents who had raced to the school when they heard news of the shooter. During the 40-60 minutes that the shooter had in that classroom, police tackled one father, pepper-sprayed another, and handcuffed at least one mom. That mom was Angeli Rose Gomez, a farm supervisor, who convinced police officers she knew to remove the cuffs. Gomez then walked a few paces away, jumped the fence, ran into the school, grabbed her two children and sprinted away. All the while, the shooter was inside murdering children.

All of this is baffling. Why were there early police reports that the killer was confronted by school security and then later clarifications that actually he wasn’t confronted by cops at all? The door was unlocked, and the killer just walked in. Responding officers pulled away and called for backup. Why did it take so long before anyone got into that fourth grade classroom? The big sacrifice we ask of the police is that, when the time comes, they will put their lives on the line for us. An investigation has begun into the law enforcement response to figure out what, if anything, went wrong. A lot of parents are saying it did.

Graeme Wood has a piece in The Atlantic on this subject that we recommend. 

→ Beto storms the stage: Beto O’Rourke, a former Texas congressman now running for Twitter clout and for governor, stormed a stage in Texas, confronting the state’s current governor, Greg Abbott, during a press conference. O’Rourke yelled: “This is on you.”

→ What do you mean North Korea doesn’t make you feel safe? On Monday, North Korea’s representative takes over as the head of the U.N. nuclear disarmament working group.  Yes, North Korea is in charge of the 65-nation group working on nuclear policy and de-escalation. Brilliant. I actually just hired a bobcat to walk my dogs. 

→ New home sales are down by 17%: We’re starting to see the impact of inflation and rising interest rates. After a sales spike starting in late-2020, new home sales are falling fast

→ The name of the game is name games: With gun control and abortion rights debates roiling, the American left continues to fight the good fights. Like: San Francisco’s School District this week dropped the word “chief” from all job titles so as to avoid any implication that they are referring to Native American chieftains. No matter that the word comes from the French chef that comes from the Latin caput. Meanwhile, Vox News argues that natural gas has to be renamed to make it sound less clean and friendly. These activists have seen what works to bring revolution to the Swarthmore new student orientation program, and they know that is the change America needs. 

→ College enrollment keeps falling: Even without Covid restrictions on campus, young Americans are still opting out of college at a dramatic rate. Enrollment as of Spring 2022 is down 4.7% from a year ago, according to new data from the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center. Since the start of the pandemic, the shift is even more dramatic: Total undergraduate enrollment has fallen by 9.4%. One thing that’s real about the #cancelstudentdebt movement is the pain: Onerous loans from overpriced schools stuffed with bureaucrats have crippled young people. A lot of teenagers today are looking at the deal and thinking, maybe there’s something better? And with a very strong job market right now, there often is. The drop in enrollment actually makes me hopeful: Colleges and universities can easily get better—start with scrapping a lot of unnecessary administrators—and now they’re finally being incentivized to do so. 

→ U.S. birth rate up by 1%: It’s not a lot, but we’ll take it. After years of steadily declining (to reproduce), Americans may be getting (it) up for the task—or at least our fall is plateauing, according to the CDC. 

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