Texas Governor Issues Spate of Executive Orders Designed to Prevent Mass Shootings

Texas Governor Greg Abbott at the annual National Rifle Association convention in Dallas, Texas, May 4, 2018. (Lucas Jackson/Reuters)

Texas governor Greg Abbott on Thursday issued eight executive orders aimed at preventing mass shootings after two massacres last month left the Lone Star State shaken.

“Mental instability, racial hatred, extremist ideology, a desire to sow domestic terror, and other factors have contributed to these horrific mass shootings in varying degrees,” the executive orders said. They also pointed out that police had been alerted to both shooters before they carried out their attacks.

Abbott ordered the state’s Department of Public Safety and Commission on Law Enforcement to standardize procedures for determining whether information should be reported to the Texas Suspicious Activity Reporting Network, to train law enforcement in those procedures, and to raise public awareness of them.

He also ordered the Department of Public Safety to work with local law enforcement, mental-health professionals, and school districts to come up with “multidisciplinary threat assessment teams” and beef up staff at government intelligence-gathering centers, and increased pressure on counties to promptly report criminal convictions to the Department.

On August 3, a 21-year-old gunman opened fire on a Walmart in El Paso, Texas, killing 20 people and injuring 26 others. He left behind a manifesto detailing his hatred of immigrants and fear of an “invasion” of Hispanics across the southern border. Last Saturday, a 36-year-old male suspect killed seven and injured 22 others in Odessa and Midland, Texas.

Abbott lamented Monday that the Odessa suspect had a criminal history and previously failed to pass a background check to purchase a gun, saying that, “we must keep guns out of criminals’ hands.”

“I will continue to work expeditiously with the legislature on laws to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous criminals, while safeguarding the 2nd Amendment rights of law-abiding Texans,” Abbot promised.

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