Uvalde Footage Underscores the Myth of Police Protection: ‘Just Call 9-1-1’


by Jon Miltimore, FEE:

New video footage of the Uvalde mass shooting is a reminder of a painful truth: police rarely have a legal obligation to protect you—and rarely do.

The gunman walked into Robb Elementary School almost casually.

Minutes earlier he had crashed a vehicle near the school, spraying three bullets at a pair of men who approached the scene to see if he was okay. After walking into the school, AR-15 in hand, the gunman takes a right turn down a hallway. From a different hallway, a child sees the gunman. The child pauses, watches, and then jumps at a roar of gunfire. He darts away.

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Less than three minutes later, police officers begin to fill the corridor, weapons drawn.

The scene described comes from new video footage obtained by The Statesman and KVUE News on the May 24 mass shooting in Uvalde, Texas, which left 22 people dead and 18 injured. (Editor’s note: the footage, which is embedded below, does NOT show anyone being shot.)

The 77-minute video shows that police were on the scene minutes after the shooter entered the school, but they quickly retreated after receiving a burst of gunfire. As KVUE notes, over the next hour little is done, even as more and more police arrive.

In the video, 13 rifles can be seen arriving in the hallway in the first 30 minutes of the incident. The first shield arrives in under 20 minutes. Dozens of law enforcement officers can be seen in the hallway, along with equipment. No officers make entry into the classroom for more than 70 minutes.

The tragic events in Uvalde have naturally sparked both outcry and discussion. On good and evil. On mental health. On courage and cowardice.

Above all else, however, Uvalde has reignited the debate over gun control.

Following the shooting, and heated demands for new gun control laws, lawmakers in DC passed federal gun legislation for the first time in nearly 30 years, imposing tougher background checks on younger buyers and encouraging states to impose “red flag” laws.

This is peculiar, because the events at Robb Elementary School actually undermined one of the key arguments used to argue for gun control.

As Richard W. Stevens pointed out in a FEE article more than two decades ago, a common—and false—belief underpins gun control ideology.

“Private citizens don’t need firearms because the police will protect them from crime,” wrote Stevens, a lawyer in Washington, D.C., and author of Dial 911 and Die.

This belief, Stevens noted, is false for two reasons. The first reason is the most obvious one, which was on full display in Uvalde. Police can’t protect everyone from crime, and rarely do. The primary purpose of police is to respond to crimes after they occur, and data suggests even this they do not do very well.

“In reality, about 11% of all serious crimes result in an arrest, and about 2% end in a conviction,” writes Shima Baughman, professor of criminal law at the University of Utah, in The Conversation.

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