Speed Reads


John Oliver details the problems with putting cops in schools, America's only answer to school shootings

The main story on Sunday's Last Week Tonight involved the school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, but only as an entry point. "Look, we all know what the key problem is here: it's guns," John Oliver began. "The vast majority of mass shooters, including the shooters at Uvalde and Parkland, obtained the weapons they used through legal purchases. So we know what the answer to this problem is, too: It's gun control. It's meaningful, effective gun laws. But that hasn't stopped some from desperately pitching absolutely anything other than that as a solution."

A lot of the ideas "are clearly ridiculous," but "hardening our schools often comes up as an alternative to gun control," Oliver said. The idea of putting "police, or school resource officers — or SROs, as they're sometimes called — into schools" seems "to come up in the wake of every big school shooting, and crucially, it's then the thing that we always do," he added. "A recent report found 14 million students go to a school with police but without a counselor, nurse, psychologist, or social worker."

"So given that once again, in the wake of yet another school shooting, we seem poised to throw more cops into our schools, we thought tonight it'd be worth talking about school police: whether they are the answer to this particular problem, the answer to any problems, or whether they're actually a pretty big problem themselves," Oliver said. He answered those questions fairly quickly — no, no, and yes — and in some detail.

"School police are not the answer to school shooting," Oliver concluded. "The answer to that is gun control. And when we throw more cops into schools as an easy way out of that difficult and necessary conversation, we not only fail to keep our kids safe from gun violence, we condemn them to a system that criminalizes the the very essence of childhood. Kids deserve to be annoying without being arrested," for example, he said. "And they definitely deserve better than the fundamental lie that the only thing that can stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy who can arrest a 5-year-old."