‘We need more than prayers’: Gov. Abbott on mass shootings

Texas

SANTA FE, Texas (AP/KXAN) — In the few years that Greg Abbott has been the governor of Texas, the state has had the most active shooter incidents ever.

According to a report from the Federal Bureau of Investigations, in 2016 and 2017, there were six active shooting situations in Texas. 

On Friday morning, when a suspect opened fire at a high school in Santa Fe, Texas, 10 people died and another 10 were injured. 

During a news conference in Santa Fe, Gov. Abbott addressed the recent mass shootings that the state has had to deal with and how he plans to address it.

“We need to do more than just pray for the victims and their families. It’s time in Texas that we take action to step up and make sure this tragedy is never repeated ever again in the history of the state of Texas,” Abbott said. 

The governor said starting next week he plans on starting roundtables with community members and all interested parties to begin “swift solutions.”

“We want to hear from parents, from students, from educators, from concerned students, from those who hold Second Amendment rights,” Abbott said. “We want to hear from everybody who has an interest in what happened today. To work together on putting together laws that will protect Second Amendment rights but at the same time ensure our communities and our schools are safer places.” 

Abbott outlined items such as better background checks and implementing ways to keep firearms out of people who pose an immediate danger. He also mentioned making sure schools have the resources needed for safety personnel and resources to address mental health. 

“In the fog of the aftermath of a catastrophe like this, the answers are not always immediate, but the answers will come by us working together,” said Abbott. 

During the news conference, Abbott also gave insight into the suspected shooter’s background.

Abbott says there were few prior warnings about 17-year-old Dimitrios Pagourtzis. He said that “unlike Parkland, unlike Sutherland Springs, there were not those types of warning signs.”

Abbott was referring to the Feb. 14 school shooting in Florida and one in November inside a church in a town near San Antonio.

Abbott says “the red-flag warnings were either non-existent, or very imperceptible” in the case of the suspected Santa Fe shooter.

However, Abbott said the suspect “has information contained in journals on his computer, in his cellphone that … said … not only did he want to commit the shooting but he wanted to commit suicide after the shooting.” 

Abbott added that the suspect gave himself up to authorities, saying he “didn’t have the courage” to take his own life. 

The call for roundtables was unexpected from state leaders, but individuals from both sides of the gun debate told us they welcome it.

“It’s nothing but a positive development. This is something we’ve been calling for many months, since even before Sutherland Springs,” Ed Scruggs, with Texas Gun Sense said. “From a policy perspective, we can no longer go the same route we’ve been going.” 

Texas Gun Sense hopes to find common ground on issues like gun safety and education, safe storage in the home and red flag laws.

“A legal process to use if there is someone close to them that is an open threat to themselves or others,” Scruggs explained. 

CJ Grisham, with Open Carry Texas, told KXAN he supports the roundtable idea. 

“I think all too often, on both sides, the pro-gun and the pro-gun control side, it tends to get very one-sided. So I think it’s good to have all interested parties involved come to the table and try to hammer out some actual solutions.” 

For one thing, Grisham says more needs to be done to secure the schools themselves. 

“As long as we focus on everything but the shooter and his motives, we are never gonna fix this problem at all. You cannot fix evil if all you do is focus on the tools that evil uses,” Grisham said. 

The focus now – on doing something

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