Pete Buttigieg Says Blaming Doorways for School Shootings Is 'Definition of Insanity' and 'Denial'

Buttigieg's comments came in the wake of recent suggestions by some Republicans to have "one door into and out of" schools, and "armed police officers at that door" to prevent mass shootings

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, center, speaks during a briefing at the White House in Washington, Monday, May 16, 2022, on the six-month anniversary of the bipartisan infrastructure law. Labor Secretary Marty Walsh, left, and Environmental Protection Agency administrator Michael Regan, right, listen.
Pete Buttigieg. Photo: Susan Walsh/AP Photo

Transportation Sec. Pete Buttigieg is pushing back against recent Republican arguments that strengthening doors can help protect against mass shootings, calling the suggestion "the definition of insanity."

"Will we actually acknowledge the reasons why we are the only country, the only developed country where this happens on a routine basis?" Buttigieg, 40, asked in an appearance on ABC's This Week on Sunday. "And the idea that us being the only developed country where this happens routinely, especially in terms of the mass shootings, is somehow a result of the design of the doorways on our school buildings, is the definition of insanity if not the definition of denial."

Buttigieg's comments came in the wake of recent suggestions by some Republican politicians, including Ted Cruz, to have "one door into and out of" schools, as well as "armed police officers at that door" to prevent mass shootings.

School and safety officials have said that having only one door into and out of a school could prove a danger to those inside in the event of a fire or other disaster. (Renovating schools would also prove to be costly and would likely come from taxpayer funding.)

Experts have similarly criticized the notion that armed security could prevent school shootings, noting that an armed security officer was among the victims at the recent Buffalo supermarket shooting. An armed officer also was present and on-duty at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, when 14 students and three staff members were slaughtered there in 2018.

Questions about the effectiveness of armed officers have also persisted in the wake of the Uvalde, Texas, shooting, where it took a team of trained police officers more than an hour to enter and stop a gunman shooting children in a classroom.

Buttigieg is among the chorus of Americans calling on Congress to strengthen gun laws after 21 innocent lives were taken in Uvalde.

Despite the hundreds of mass shootings that occur in the U.S. every year, Congress has failed to pass any major piece of gun control legislation in recent years.

One of the latest efforts to reform federal gun laws came in 2013 with the Manchin-Toomey amendment, a measure that would have required background checks on all commercial gun sales. The amendment — which came to a vote four months after 20 first graders and six educators were fatally shot at Sandy Hook Elementary School — failed, getting only 54 of the 60 votes it needed to overcome a filibuster. (Nearly all of the lawmakers who voted against it have received funding from the National Rifle Association.)

In a primetime address to the nation last week, President Joe Biden called on Congress to reinstate a nationwide assault weapons ban and institute a number of other gun reform measures, such as stronger background checks, safe storage laws and red-flag laws, a repeal of "the immunity that protects gun manufacturers from liability," and a limit to how many rounds of ammunition a weapon can hold at once.

Biden also proposed addressing "the mental health crisis deepening the trauma of gun violence and as a consequence of that violence."

As Biden noted in closing his remarks, the House of Representatives has already passed some of the key measures he proposed — though many have stalled in Congress.

Now, he said, it's up to the Senate, which is evenly split among Republicans and Democrats — making gun reform an uphill battle.

"For the children we've lost, for the children we can save, for the nation we love, let's hear the call and the cry," he said. "Let's meet the moment. Let us finally do something."

To express your opinion on gun reform proposals to your own representatives in Congress, you can look them up and contact them here:

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