News & Politics

Experts Say That Proposed Gun Measures in Congress Would Not Have Stopped Uvalde Shooting

AP Photo/Evan Vucci

If you listen to most of the commentary surrounding the debate over the gun control measure that will be before Congress shortly, you might notice that proponents of the measure always point to the tragedy in Uvalde, Texas, and other school shootings as a reason to pass it.

But why? There is nothing in the proposals being tossed around on Capitol Hill that would have prevented one single school shooting. And that opinion is shared by numerous experts whom ABC News interviewed.

Those gun control partisans screaming at Gov. Greg Abbott and Republicans to “Do Something!” about the school shootings are going to be extremely disappointed with whatever Congress settles on.

But other experts said it’s far from certain that the measures, had they already been in place, would have prevented the deaths of 19 children and two adults in Uvalde last month.

Retired brigadier general Dr. Stephen Xenakis, a former army psychiatrist and senior adviser to the Defense Department, told ABC News that the proposal’s investment in children’s and family’s mental health services might have helped mitigate the attack, since there’s “considerable evidence” that accused shooter Salvador Ramos had mental health problems.

“Proactive outreach and engagement could have gotten him into treatment and avoided the deterioration leading to the shootings,” Xenakis said.

That’s not at all certain either. Treating the seriously mentally ill is a crapshoot. Much depends on whether the ill person takes his or her medication.

But it may have kept Ramos from purchasing a firearm.

That’s a big “if,” and the question that needs to be asked is who would stand to lose if the law was passed?

But former FBI agent Mary Ellen O’Toole, a leading expert in profiling criminals’ brains, said that even with all the proposals in force, Ramos could still easily have fallen through the cracks.

“Where he would have fallen through the loop was, he was not in school — he was he was at work,” O’Toole told ABC News. “He wasn’t in a position where someone that knew him could have reached out and tried to get him mental health care … through the school system.”

In addition, said O’Toole, for him to have been directed toward mental health assistance that might have prevented the shooting, those around him would have needed to be aware of the warning signs.

This was a friendless kid, a loner. It’s not likely Ramos could have been headed off at that late date.

Congress should acknowledge reality and admit that nothing they’re proposing will save a single kid’s life or stop a single school shooting. But that kind of honest legislating isn’t what partisans and the media want.