Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) raised furore Saturday by defending the various law enforcement agencies involved in responding to the Uvalde, Texas, school shooting that left 19 children and two teachers dead.
Frustration, outrage and questions have swirled over the police response to Tuesday’s shooting at Robb Elementary. More than an hour elapsed between when the shooter entered the school and when U.S. Border Patrol agents unlocked a classroom door and killed him. As they waited inside, children and teachers inside made repeated 911 calls, asking for the police to help.
Outside the building, according to witness accounts, police tasered, handcuffed and pepper sprayed frantic parents who begged them to enter the school. Some parents said they sprinted into the school themselves to grab their kids when the police wouldn’t act. A police spokesperson told CNN Thursday officers were slow to confront the gunman because “they could’ve been shot.”
The director of the Texas Department of Public Safety admitted Friday that it was the “wrong decision” to wait. And in an unusual move, the Justice Department has said it will investigate the law enforcement response.
But according to Cornyn, people are being too harsh on the decision makers whose inaction almost certainly resulted in more deaths.
“The second guessing and finger pointing among state and local law enforcement is destructive, distracting, and unfair,” he tweeted Saturday. “Complex scenarios require split second decisions. Easy to criticize with 20-20 hindsight.”
He added that the focus should be on the investigation and lessons learned to prevent future tragedies.
Among the many responses to his tweet was Fred Guttenberg, a gun control activist whose daughter, Jaime, was killed in the 2018 Parkland, Florida, shooting.
“If not for the failed law enforcement response in Parkland, [Jaime] and others would be alive today,” he wrote. “The facts will show that if not for the failed response in Uvalde, fewer would have been killed.”
“It is also fair to say that without the failure to act by Senators like you, these shootings may never have happened,” he added.
Republican senators stand in the way of two bills passed by the House that would tighten gun control laws and expand background checks for gun purchases. Cornyn is among the top 10 members of Congress who have received the most campaign donations from gun rights lobbyists.
He had been slated to speak at a NRA convention in Houston over the weekend, but pulled out, with his office citing a scheduling conflict.
Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-Ariz.), called for police to be held accountable:
And Rep. John Yarmuth (D-Ky.) also chimed in, noting that some Republicans want even looser gun laws:
See more of the reaction below: