The Foolishness of the One-Door Policy

by | May 27, 2022 | Gun violence, Policy

In the aftermath of the Robb Elementary School shooting, Republicans are attempting to discredit and deflect attention away from common sense gun reform by proposing increasingly bizarre proposals. Given that the oft-mentioned idea of more “good guys with guns” has been proven ineffective again and again to devastating effect, the most prevalent idea now being pushed is that of “hardening” schools through having only a single point of entry rather than multiple doors into the school.

The idea of significantly decreasing the number of school entrances first entered the public consciousness following the Sante Fe High School shooting in 2018, when armed guards failed to prevent the mass killing. Only a few hours after the tragedy, Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick mused that the shooter could have been stopped “had there been one single entrance possibly for every student.” These words echoed the exact recommendations laid out by the NRA’s School Shield task force in the aftermath of the 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook.

Now in the days following the Uvalde massacre, Patrick and his fellow NRA superfan Senator Ted Cruz have harped on this idea of a “one-door” policy, with the latter honing on the supposed effectiveness of “having one door that goes in and out of the school, having armed police officers at that one door.”

For a number of reasons, this proposed policy is ridiculous. The policy would break numerous fire codes as well as potentially make school shootings even more dangerous, with a single door making escape harder. Even if exit-only doors were added to schools as has been suggested by the aforementioned Republican politicians, the ability of first responders to do their jobs and save lives would be made more difficult, potentially compounded by another suggested hardening policy: removing windows.

Actually enacting the one-door policy and creating a hardened school infrastructure would also be immensely challenging and expensive. In an interview with the Texas Tribune, public education advocate Monty Exter detailed how difficult and expensive it would be to enact the massive construction projects necessary to alter the more than 8,000 school campuses located around Texas. 

Most importantly though, further “hardening” of Texas schools would be largely redundant. Even before Dan Patrick mentioned the topic in 2018, a survey conducted a couple years beforehand showed that more than 96% of Texas school administrators already locked their doors to limit access during teaching hours, and the state’s schools became even more physically-secured after the Texas Legislature passed SB 11 in 2019. To that end, the Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District had already put in place numerous safety measures along the lines of what the NRA and its Texan political allies have suggested, including the mandatory locking of classroom doors.

Nevertheless, Texas Republicans will likely continue to avoid considering gun reforms, so they will likely continue bringing up this ineffective, costly, and superfluous policy. As public outcry grows though, Texans will test just how dedicated to the policy these NRA-backed politicians are before common sense gun control finally gets put on the table.

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