On May 24, 19 children and two teachers from Uvalde, Texas, lost their lives. Could those deaths have been prevented? And – a larger question – will their deaths be ignored and no meaningful steps taken to prevent another such massacre?

Buffalo Supermarket Shooting Funeral

Police officers salute outside the funeral service for Aaron Salter Jr. at The Chapel at Crosspoint  in Getzville, N.Y., on Wednesday. Salter, who was killed in the Buffalo supermarket shooting May 14, was a retired law enforcement officer working at the supermarket as an armed security guard when he was slain. Joshua Bessex/Associated Press

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz responded to the murders by saying, in reference to laws that place limitations on gun purchases, “That doesn’t work. It’s not effective. It doesn’t prevent crime.” Sen. Cruz is wrong.

After the Sandy Hook school shooting, Connecticut passed a number of gun control laws, one of which required prospective purchasers of even long guns – which includes rifles and shotguns – to first obtain either an eligibility certificate or a firearms permit. During the time I served as a judge in Connecticut, a case was presented in which a person who was residing in a mental health facility formulated a plan to exact revenge in the high school where she had been bullied. It did not matter to her that those who had bullied her had long since graduated from the school. Residents of her facility were not committed and, therefore, had the freedom to come and go from the facility.

She attempted to purchase a shotgun from a firearms dealer but was turned down because she did not have a firearms permit or eligibility certificate. She then traveled to a Walmart and tried again to purchase a shotgun.  She was turned down, again, for the same reason. Her behavior caused a Walmart clerk to alert law enforcement. Ultimately, her diary was acquired and it established that she had, indeed, planned to replicate the Columbine shooting in a Connecticut high school. She was prosecuted and ultimately convicted for her attempted crime.

You have not heard of that case, and I doubt that Sen. Cruz has heard of that case, and that is because Connecticut’s law worked. The planned massacre did not take place. The massacre in Uvalde did take place because Texas, and other states, sneer at the level of gun control legislation that is in place in Connecticut.

Several legislators opposed to gun control legislation have suggested that there not be fewer firearms in our communities but, instead, there should be more widespread gun ownership. Teachers, some suggest, should be armed to repel intruders.  Others seek a greater law enforcement presence in schools.

Those suggestions ignore many firearm-related truths. Law enforcement officers undergo extensive firearms training, training that involves not only expertise in how to use a firearm, but also how to use it in an active-shooter situation.  As one who was once a teacher, and as one who has taken firearms qualification training with the Connecticut State Police, I can state unequivocally that arming teachers to repel intruders, such as the Uvalde school shooter, is an absurd concept. Teachers teach. They are not law enforcement officers.

More important, although school shootings are beyond horrific, mass shootings have taken place in movie theaters, grocery stores and nightclubs and at rock concerts, including locations where law enforcement was present. Most recently, in the Buffalo grocery store shooting, the murderer was almost immediately opposed by a retired law enforcement officer working as an armed security guard, the two men exchanged gunfire, and the retired officer was killed.

The firearms laws in Connecticut, including a ban on the sale of assault weapons, have undoubtedly saved lives. The lack of similar laws in Texas may well have cost lives. Of children. The issue before us is not a political issue. It is a question of whether meaningful firearms laws will be enacted in order to save parents, in the future, from receiving a telephone call telling them that their child will be coming home not on a school bus but, rather, in a hearse. Based on the growing lack of empathy in so many elected officials, I am forced to conclude, sadly, that such calls will not end.

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