Each week we ask readers to weigh in on a timely topic. This week, we asked: “Would Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick’s call to shift $50 million in the state budget to buy bulletproof shields for school police officers prevent more mass shootings at Texas schools? If not, how could the money be better spent?” Here’s what some readers had to say:
Patrick’s calculated political response;
we should be ashamed to consider it
Bulletproof shields for public school police officers is a complete waste of time and money.
This sounds like a political response that would allow someone to say they took action. Next year it would be helmets and then body armor.
Should we ask all of our children to do the same?
This is a false path to pursue and we should be ashamed for even considering it. What we need are enhanced background checks, red-flag laws, raising the age requirement, required safety training and a ban on assault-style weapons . If we are really honest, we would ask ourselves why our youth are so comfortable with violence.
We need to address the problem and stop trying to avoid the issue. Life is looking us in the eye and we are turning away.
Larry Amy, Austin
Money would be better spent on strong
mental health support in our schools
Speaking as a retired elementary schoolteacher, I believe Dan Patrick’s $50 million would be better spent building a strong mental health support system in our school districts.
Teachers and students often know when a student is struggling, depressed or isolated. This often starts at the elementary school age. Creating a culture in the classroom of inclusiveness, kindness and compassion is so important. Emergency intervention should be standard, with treatment not feeling like a punishment, but rather a solution that benefits the child.
Teachers have so much on their plate. We need programs in place to support them and our students, so that everyone feels safe to reach out for help.
Sarah Mills, Georgetown
Let’s focus on new laws to prevent,
not react to, growing gun violence
Please thank Lt. Gov. Patrick for his in-depth thinking on the matter.
However, a shield won’t deter violence by a determined gunman. It might not adequately protect the user from the killing force of an assault rifle.
Instead, Lt. Gov. Patrick would do better to redirect the focus onto legislation that is concerned with what is on the other side of the shield.
America is constantly evolving, including our laws to match. Laws that no longer fit our changed environment are redundant, and no longer subject to constant reinterpretation and debate. This is 2022, not 1776. New law is required.
Let’s focus on the other side of the shield to prevent, not simply react, to growing gun violence.
Terry Thompson, Austin
Seek long-term mental health
solutions for the entire family
Seriously? That’s insane. Spend that money to do this: preventing the creation of young killers.
The definition of mental health is how we handle the curveballs life throws at us. This wasn’t the first time the Uvalde shooter was full of rage. That starts in childhood. Parents teach how to cope when problems happen. If they model shaming, blaming, yelling, violence (all attempts to cover up vulnerable feelings like hopelessness, sadness, powerlessness, inadequacy, fear), that’s all their kids know.
Focus on long-term solutions. When a child shows problems in school, that’s the time to get help for the whole family. Schools should offer classes as a normal part of the curricula to parents and children on self-calming techniques, how to talk about feelings, esteem building, conflict resolution, parenting and communication skills.
Learning how to handle life constructively is upriver prevention, not downriver clean up.
Pamela Monday, licensed marriage and family therapist, Austin
Patrick wants to distract us from
the reality of deadly gun violence
Sophistry, as it is taught, is the “art” of stating a false premise then defending that falsehood logically.
Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick wants to spend $50 million on shields for school guards, distracting us from the reality of gun violence in all our society. How readily he and others state that soft schools need to be hardened while at the same time never mentioning the slaughter of civilians in all locations in Texas and throughout the United States.
Would a shield protect us at church, at the movies, at a grocery store, at WalMart, a nightclub, an outdoor concert? All places where massacres have occurred.
The answer is not shields because that is not the problem.
The problem is the wide distribution of unregulated firearms, including weapons of war. We should not be distracted with the falsehood and the solutions. Demand the creation of a civil society.
Manuel Martin, Austin
The real problem is there are too many
guns and they are too easy to obtain
Our “leaders” in Texas propose dubious, unwieldy solutions to gun violence while denigrating any effort to examine the giant assault rifle in the room.
The proposition that “everyone who wants a gun should be able to get one” without acknowledging that a gun is a dangerous weapon is illogical and ludicrous on its face.
Mr. Patrick would rather have our schools look more like a battleground than admit that too many easily obtainable guns are a problem.
Andy Salmon, Austin
The question is, how effectively
will shields reduce mass shootings
I’m all about officer safety, so I have no problem with the $50 million Patrick is seeking to buy bulletproof shields for school police. Having said that, the real question is, how much will that reduce mass shooting occurrences?
The blame for this epidemic lies mostly at the feet of the GOP, including Patrick and Gov. Abbott, who are driven by grassroots gun extremists who would never allow any restrictions on firearms. They have sought to turn Texas back to the old West with constitutional carry and similar nonsense.
Their “solutions” are an ongoing failure, if we go by results.
Frank Shofner, Lago Vista
If the problem is mental illness, then
invest money in mental health care
Bulletproof shields would not be preventative, only reactionary — useful only once a murderer had already entered the building and started taking lives.
If Lt. Gov. Patrick and Gov. Abbott (along with other politicians and gun rights supporters) truly believe, as they say, that the problem is not guns but mental illness, then spend the $50 million on mental health measures.
A good start would be to require mandatory mental health screening, administered by a licensed professional, paid for by the state, prior to the purchase of any gun, anywhere.
Would such screening be foolproof? No. But it would be money well spent if it saved one life or stopped one mass shooting. If mental health, not guns, is the problem, then we need to get serious about keeping guns out of the hands of the mentally ill. Spending money on mandatory mental health screening would be a good place to begin.
Robert Karli, Austin
Patrick is changing the topic; only
answer is to ban assault-style rifles
Patrick is changing the topic from gun control and gun safety to bulletproof shields to avoid doing the right thing.
Undoubtedly, shields will help but they (alone) are not the answer.
The only thing that will work is to ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines. Patrick is too afraid of the National Rifle Association and gun rights movement to stand up for the schoolchildren of Texas.
Joanne Brininstool, Austin
Use the money for background checks,
licensing firearms and other reforms
Dan Patrick’s proposal to spend $50 million to provide school police officers bulletproof shields has to be the dumbest thing he has proposed.
A far simpler remedy would be to regulate gun purchases and ownership (as in “a well-regulated militia”).
Patrick should spend our money to fund the Department of Public Safety to conduct background checks for all gun purchases, enforce waiting periods, and license and regulate assault weapons and magazines.
Gardner Atkinson, Leander
Charging into the past to avoid
addressing the problems of today
Leave it to Dan Patrick to come up with a second-century solution to a 21st century problem.
AR-15s and similar weapons are designed to kill as many people as possible in the shortest amount of time. They are working! These weapons in the hands of amateurs, the mentally ill and troubled kids may be a problem, ya think?
Again, the Texas GOP political machine is charging into the past to avoid facing current problems that affect all Americans.
Meanwhile, Gov. Abbott blames mental health issues for the shooting massacres. Those words ring hollow from a state that ranks dead last in America for access to mental health care.
Ralph Lake, Austin
Get rid of the combat weapons sold
to teens and you wouldn’t need shields
Patrick’s $50 million shield proposal really confirmed his weakness. His motivation is obvious: Come fill my campaign basket.
His plan for shields for officers at Texas schools is ambitious.
According to Greatschools.org, Texas has 14,730 pre-schools, 8,789 elementary schools, 4,416 middle schools, and 3,674 high schools, totaling 31,609 public schools.
A shield for each school would average approximately $1,581.83.
Another solution to the need for shields would be to eliminate the combat weapons being sold to teenagers.
Mike Henry, Smithwick
A better use for $50 million would be
for a statewide funeral fund for victims
Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick suggests shifting $50 million of the state’s budget to purchase bulletproof shields to protect school police officers to help stop the carnage. Really?
Last I checked, it was students and teachers who were being gunned down. Or did I miss something?
Better use of the $50 million would be for a statewide funeral fund. This would be an account from which the state of Texas pays for the funerals of our students, teachers and other citizens of Texas who are gunned down in mass shootings because our politicians think it’s more important to protect their interpretation of Second Amendment rights than our children, teachers and other bystanders killed by weapons designed for the battlefield.
Bob Goranson, Round Rock
Editor’s note: The Austin City Council is on the verge of raising height restrictions on residential development to help increase affordable housing supply. This week we’re asking readers: Do you agree or disagree with this, and what other actions should the city take to make housing in Austin more affordable?
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