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Texas Governor Reacts to Recent Texas Shootings with Executive Orders


September 8, 2019

By Natalie Cook Clark

In response to recent Texas and national mass shootings, Governor Greg Abbott has issued eight executive orders aimed at preventing such future events. Several of the calls to action are set to strict deadlines and Abbott stresses that legislative action is required.

Texas Governor Takes Action After Texas Shootings

Less than a week after a shooting rampage in West Texas left seven people dead, and a month after 22 people were killed at a Walmart in El Paso, Governor Greg Abbott issued eight executive orders in hopes to prevent future mass shootings in Texas. He also outlines a strict deadline for implementing these new practices.

Shooting Suspect's Mom Alerted Authorities Prior to Incident

Several of the new mandates involve how law enforcement handles their reporting process of potential threats. Abbott's office stated that the mother of El Paso shooting suspect had alerted authorities weeks prior to that shooting.

The goal is to improve reporting and communication between departments. Now the Texas Department of Public Safety must improve the process of reporting information to the Texas Suspicious Activity Reporting Network within 30 days. Also, the Department of Public Safety needs to "develop clear guidance, based on the appropriate legal standard," on how law enforcement should submit reports. This is also are due within 30 days.

Improve Transparency to the Public

In another mandate, law enforcement agencies are required to inform the public on how any reports to the network are used to identify potential mass shooters or terrorist threats.

Stricter Monitoring of Online Threats

More staff will be hired and trained at law enforcement centers to better monitor online activity for potential threats.

Officials to Work with Mental Health Professionals, Schools

Public safety officials will also work with mental health professionals and schools in creating threat assessment teams for their areas.

Reporting Required for Grant Recipient Counties

Starting January 1, 2020 any county that receives grants from the governor's office are to report "at least 90% of convictions within seven business days" to the Texas Department of Public Safety. Reporting must take place within five business days by January 1, 2021.

According to Abbott this is a "starting point in the process to keep Texas communities safe." His office says that legislative action is still needed.

Abbott Says Texas Must Do Better to Protect Residents

"Texas must achieve several objectives to better protect our communities and our residents from mass shootings," Abbott said in a statement. "One of those objectives is to marshal law enforcement resources to stop violent criminals before they commit mass murders. But more must be done. 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."

Legislature does not reconvene until the second Tuesday of January 2021 but Abbott says he will announce recommendations next week.

Walmart Changes Gun Policy in Sales and in Stores

Earlier this week, Walmart took a stand in the gun debate by ending all handgun ammunition sales and asked customers to no longer openly carry in their Walmart and Sam's Club stores. Walmart CEO, Doug McMillon encouraged the nation’s leader to strengthen background checks and to remove guns from anyone who could be a threat. Read more about Walmart's changes.

Political Debate

Democratic presidential candidate Beto O'Rourke took to Twitter to criticize the plan.

"Not one of these orders mentions guns," says O'Rourke, who is from El Paso where one of the recent shootings occurred.

Texas Safety Commission To Release Report

A report of findings and recommendations from meetings with the Texas Safety Commission are scheduled to be released next week.


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