To Protect and Serve?

Eighty minutes. That’s the amount of time that elapsed on May 24 between the first report of trouble at Robb Elementary school in Uvalde, Tex., and the moment the gunman was shot and killed. We are understandably dismayed by this. How, we ask, when there were so many police officers at the school within minutes of the first 911 call, can it have taken so long to confront the gunman?

Two weeks on, the Uvalde massacre has largely receded from the news, the attention span of the typical American being roughly equal to that of a mosquito. But despite the fact that the horrors of that day are no longer on the front page, a reckoning awaits. Sad to say, but that reckoning will leave nearly everyone disappointed.

You may assume, having seen video of the prolonged inaction by the police that day, that civil suits will follow and juries will hold the responsible parties accountable. But no matter what malfeasance is revealed by the investigations now ongoing, it is unlikely that anyone will be held civilly liable for his failures.

Bag 'em and tag 'em.

As nonsensical as it may seem, police officers are immune from civil liability for failing to protect any individual from harm, even when that failure is as egregious as it appears to have been in Uvalde. In the U.S. Supreme Court cases of Castle Rock v. Gonzales and DeShaney v. Winnebago, and the D.C. Court of Appeals case of Warren v. District of Columbia, the courts held that police and other government entities could not be held liable for their various lapses that resulted in harm to the plaintiffs.

In Castle Rock, Colorado police failed to arrest an estranged husband for a restraining order violation in the hours before he murdered his three daughters. In DeShaney, social workers in Wisconsin failed to protect a child from an abusive father whose beatings inflicted permanent brain damage. And in Warren, police in D.C. responded to a reported break-in at a home but failed to exert even minimal effort to investigate the circumstances, with the result that three women were kidnapped and subjected to 14 hours of sexual torture. The details of these cases are heartbreaking, and though we may wish otherwise, they reflect the current state of the law. Anyone filing a civil suit against the police in Uvalde is likely to find no more relief than did the plaintiffs in these cases.

But there is a higher standard that police officers should be expected to observe than the legal one. No matter what laws are passed in Uvalde’s aftermath, no matter which police policies are changed, no matter how great our professed commitment to preventing more school shootings may be, similar incidents will follow. And cops responding to the next one may find themselves in a situation similar to that faced by the ones in Uvalde. They may stand idly by and ponder what their legal obligations are, but in that moment they must realize their moral obligation is clear: They must act to the very limits of their abilities to protect innocent life. Anything less is a dereliction, whether the courts hold them to account or not.

Some have accused the police in Uvalde of being cowardly for waiting so long in the hallway while the gunman continued shooting in the classroom. I see it differently. According to this timeline, three Uvalde police officers entered the school at 11:35 a.m. in pursuit of the gunman but retreated when they were grazed by gunfire. A momentary retreat in these circumstances is forgivable, and these officers were not cowards. They were soon joined by four more officers, and still more within a few minutes. Neither were these officers cowards. They were, rather, lacking direction. In most police departments a chain of command is strictly observed, and though brave cops may rush to the scene of a crisis, they are worthless if they are not properly led. In my mind, this was the breakdown in Uvalde that day.

Gotta check my phone first.

The timeline is not clear as to the moment Uvalde School District police chief Pete Arredondo assumed the role of incident commander, but it seems obvious he was not up to the task. Putting aside the fact that he was not properly equipped for the role, having no police radio with which to talk with responding officers, it appears he failed to accurately assess the tactical situation he faced.

The incident had not changed from an active shooter to a barricaded suspect, as Arredondo is reported to have believed. It remained an active shooter incident, albeit one in which the shooter was more sporadically active than he had been. With 19 officers in the hallway, and dozens more outside, Arredondo appears to have fallen into tactical tunnel vision, remaining focused on the classroom door while other avenues of entry could have and should have been considered. Surely there were sufficient personnel and resources available to find an alternate path into the classroom had there been an incident commander able and willing to give the necessary orders.

Yes, Arredondo was the chief of the school’s police department and as such was technically the highest ranking officer at the scene, but when rapid, tactical decisions are called for, the highest ranking officer may not be the most qualified to make them, and in most cases, he is guaranteed not to be. Such was the case in Uvalde.

In time since the shooting I have waited for Arredondo to explain the rationale for the decisions he made – or failed to make – in the assumption there must have been facts known to him but not yet publicly revealed. With each passing day it seems more likely that no such facts will be forthcoming.

Eighty agonizing minutes, during which God only knows how many of those precious children may have bled to death from wounds that would have been survivable with prompt medical attention. No, Arredondo will not be held civilly liable for his actions that day, but the court of public opinion operates on a moral standard, not a legal one. Its verdict will be harsh.

THE COLUMN: Forget Guns. Whatever Happened to Men?

The Uvalde school shootings, coming as they did just before Memorial Day, have thrown into high relief one of this country's most vexing problems. No, it's not guns, even "military-style" guns, to use a term that has no meaning except apparently to journalists—who should also brush up on the meaning of "semi-automatic" while they're at it but probably won't. Guns have been a part of American society since the Pilgrims shot their first turkeys, and have served the country well throughout its history. That some of them have been used in the commission of crimes by criminals hardly outweighs their usefulness to the founding and maintenance of the Republic. Just ask Sergeant York.

The perfect cannot be the enemy of the good. A disarmed domestic society is not something devoutly to be wished for. In any case, what the gun-grabbers are really aiming for is not "gun control" or "common sense" gun laws but confiscation and abolition. And with nearly 400 million firearms in the country, and gun ownership widely popular, that is not going to happen as long as the Second Amendment is the law of the land. In the meantime, see what just happened in Canada, which is now completing its post-Covid descent into a fascist tyranny:

The Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, today announced the introduction of new legislation to further strengthen gun control in Canada and keep Canadians safe from gun violence. Bill C-21 puts forward some of the strongest gun control measures in over 40 years. These new measures include:

  • Implementing a national freeze on handguns to prevent individuals from bringing newly acquired handguns into Canada and from buying, selling, and transferring handguns within the country.
  • Taking away the firearms licenses of those involved in acts of domestic violence or criminal harassment, such as stalking.
  • Fighting gun smuggling and trafficking by increasing criminal penalties, providing more tools for law enforcement to investigate firearms crimes, and strengthening border security measures.
  • Addressing intimate partner violence, gender-based violence, and self-harm involving firearms by creating a new “red flag” law that would enable courts to require that individuals considered a danger to themselves or others surrender their firearms to law enforcement.

Luckily, here in the U.S., "shall not be infringed" has a meaning that is clear to everyone who speaks English, even Supreme Court justices and emotive half-wit Connecticut senators who shamelessly exploit dead children for their own political purposes. Gun confiscation from overwhelmingly law-biding legal gun owners makes about as much sense as locking down the healthy during a relatively minor viral epidemic. Oh wait...

No, the fault, to paraphrase Shakespeare, is not in our guns but in ourselves, and specifically in our men. For half a century masculinity has been under concerted attack in this country—fish, bicycle is one of the more benign forms, although still passive-aggressively hateful—until today it has been deemed "toxic" by the harpies of fourth-wave feminism and their very strange bedfellows in the QWERTYUIOP+ brigades. The unsurprising result has been the diminution and removal of genuine masculinity from the public square— even in the military, which now prizes women and trans-wokeness over men—and its replacement with sundry culturally unacceptable substitutes.

Chief among the missing males have been fathers: real, biological, spiritual, emotional, disciplinary fathers. Not "baby daddies," to use the ghetto term that has percolated its way up and into the larger culture. Not transient sperm donors, who wouldn't exist in the first place without trampy women to enable them. Not semi-functioning biological males embedded in the transgressive woke community who take an "X" for the team. But real men, who not only take responsibility for their children but impart responsibility to the next generation, especially to their sons. In their absence, this is what you get (warning: scorecard necessary): 

No, the problem isn't "gun violence," it's the enforced emasculation of teenage American males via liberalism, feminism, academia, psychiatry, pharmacology, and the media, which all too often explodes in inchoate rage. Innate female impulses and values are critical to civilizational formation, but they are antithetical to civilizational preservation, prizing collectivism over individuality, shared instead of personal responsibility, and constant, generally irrational fears for physical and emotional safety. ("Safety" on line? Twitter can instantly "suspend" you permanently and Facebook can send you to Sugarmountain Prison on the spot for unspecified "harassment," but the Uvalde shooter can yap on social media about his desire to assault a school and nothing happens to him, algorithmically speaking.) There has never been a successful matriarchy in Western history and there never will be. Neither sex would or should want it. And as for the 19th Amendment and its effect on American history, don't get me started...

And yet within recent memory there were gun clubs at nearly every American high school, rifles teams too. In my youth it was not uncommon to see boys with BB guns and air rifles on the streets, or teenagers in JROTC uniforms carrying disabled M-1 rifles, to and from drill practice or home for field-stripping and cleaning. Hell, I even co-wrote a movie about a military-school drill team for Disney, which turned out to be their highest-rated Disney Channel show and highest-rated original movie when it was first shown in 2002—and now, in an ironic turn of events, has been whole-heartedly adopted by the lesbian community, even though that subject never once came up during the writing, development, and shooting of the movie.

There is no one-size-fits-all solution to America's violence problem but surely all but the wokest among us can agree that the current state of affairs is not only unacceptable but intolerable in the literal meaning of the word: no longer to be endured. So what about this for a start:

It goes without saying that the services would have to be purged of current leadership in order for this to be effective, but no doubt such a purge will be one of the first things President Ron DeSantis does upon taking office in 2025.

No vote, no guns, no dorms, no unsupervised booze until legal coming of age. Think of the lives and the parental fortunes that would be saved, plus the services, which haven't won a war since Truman was president, would revert to being largely masculine provinces, while education would return to the custody of women. Both the services and colleges could at once fire all their diversity directors and Title IX warriors and return to concentrating on teaching and fighting. Win-win!

The restoration of legal adulthood seems especially pressing. The invention of "adolescence" —by "psychologists," of course—has resulted in its extension to well into one's twenties now (think Obamacare, which defined "dependent children" up to age 26!) Unsurprisingly, this has resulted in increasing "mental illness" among teens and thus a gigantic make-work program for DSM-5 charlatans everywhere. Perfectly normal feelings like "sadness" and "angst" suddenly became the object of study by practitioners of Viennese Voodoo when every other culture that came before ours would have classified the resultant misbehavior as a failure of discipline, and dealt with it accordingly. Rome didn't last two thousand years, from the beginnings of the Republic to the fall of Constantinople, because it was weak.

Or our forefathers would have dubbed such behavior as "evil," which is what the shootings in Texas and in Buffalo—and the weekly carnage in places like Chicago—are. Please don't "judge" him, said the Texas shooter's mom, "he had his reasons." No real man cares what his "reasons" were. Indeed, the sooner we get the shrinks out of the criminal justice system entirely, and replace them with morality, the more justice we're going to get for criminals. Some people are just born to be bad and no amount of shrinking is going to help them; it only excuses them. But just as plane crashes get more media attention than fatal auto accidents, so do mass murders command the headlines, even though they are extremely rare and their death tolls are far smaller than run-of-the-mill urban violence. But don't take it from me, take it from NPR:

As the U.S. deals with two mass shootings in a single week, public outcry about racism, gun violence, gun rights and what to do about these issues is high... As a criminal justice researcher, I study gun purchasing and mass shootings, and it’s clear to me that these events are traumatic for victims, families, communities and the nation as a whole. But despite the despair about their slightly growing frequency, they are actually uncommon incidents that account for just 0.2% of firearm deaths in the U.S. each year.

The most recent research on frequency of mass shootings indicates they are becoming more common, though the exact number each year can vary widely. But not all experts agree. Some argue that mass shootings have not increased and that reports of an increase are due to differences in research methods, such as determining which events are appropriate to count in the first place. Speaking about school shootings specifically in a 2018 interview, two gun violence researchers said that those events have not become more common – but rather, people have become more aware of them.

Oh, we're aware now. The sight of the lard-bottomed Uvalde cops standing around while a punk with reasons was murdering the town's children is one we won't soon forget. Not a real man among them, and that goes for the women on the force too. Hey—a guy could get killed charging an "active shooter." (The only adult who showed any gumption was the woman who acted on her maternal instincts and rescued her own children.) But if the first consideration of your local cops is for their own safety, get new cops pronto. Just because courts have consistently ruled the police have no affirmative duty to come to your aid—that "protect and serve" thing? Just kidding!—doesn't mean you have an affirmative duty to become a victim.

Their job is to collect the bodies after the carnage stops and then "solve" the crime. Your job is to make sure it doesn't happen in the first place. That is, if you're man enough.