Despite polarized views on guns, leaders can’t give up, Texas Senator John Cornyn says

As gun reform continues to be debated, U.S. Sen. John Cornyn of Texas said politicians won’t be on the same page.

Cornyn visited Fort Worth Paschal High School on Monday for a tour and to see its security system.

President Joe Biden signed the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act into law in June 2022 to expand school mental health resources and support school safety initiatives nationwide. Cornyn, a Republican, was one of the act’s key players, and Fort Worth schools were among the first to receive grant funding from from the law.

School officials plan to use $359,000 they received to buy specialized radios so school security officers are able to maintain better situation awareness. They also plan to install overhead paging systems, message screens, communications devices, and ports at 105 campuses to send emergency alerts to school phones.

During his visit Monday, Cornyn got to see how the new technology worked as he visited with Fort Worth Superintendent Angélica M. Ramsey, Paschal principal Troy Troy Langston and school security director Daniel Garcia.

Cornyn also got to see a classroom with one-way glass. The glass looked like a mirror from the outside when the lights inside were off, but the classroom was in full view when the lights were on — except for the parts blocked by a big black suitcase.

“It’s very impressive,” Cornyn said. “You know, it kind of makes me sad that it’s necessary. But it is necessary particularly in these times we’re living in and with the bad experiences we’ve had.”

Cornyn’s visit comes almost a year after the mass shooting in Uvalde that killed 19 children and two teachers at Robb Elementary and falls as Texas lawmakers meet in Austin in the final days of the legislative session, scheduled to end May 29. Texas has not passed red flag laws or a raised the age to buy semiautomatic rifles.

A Texas House committee advanced a bill that would have raised the minimum age to purchase a semiautomatic rifle from 18 to 21 in the days following the shooting in Allen, but lawmakers did not place it on the calendar for consideration before the May 9 deadline.

A group of 30 Paschal students walked out of their classrooms May 12 to protest gun violence, particularly the May 6 shooting at Allen Premium Outlets that killed eight people and a January shooting outside the nearby Whataburger that killed 17-year-old Paschal student Zechariah Trevino.

Cornyn said every time a shooting happens like in Uvalde or Allen, people ask what’s missing and what needs to happen to make a change. His answer, he said, is not to take semiautomatic weapons away. He wants to focus on the background check system.

After tragedies, Cornyn said people usually say, “Do something.”

Cornyn said he wanted to make sure he abided by the Second Amendment as he tried to get at the problem, which he characterized as people who aren’t following the law or those who may struggle with their mental health.

“It’s not easy to find bipartisan consensus in this area, because so much of this is that people are so polarized,” Cornyn said. “But you know, politics is called the art of the possible for reason. We can’t just say, ‘Well, we can’t do anything, we’re not going to try.’

“That’s unacceptable. So we’re trying to learn from each of these incidents.”

And even as the issue continues to be politicized, Cornyn doesn’t have hope politicians will get on the same page.

“We’re never going to be on the same page,” Cornyn said. “But it’s about getting critical mass. It’s about getting things done and, like I said, it’s the art of the possible.”