State of Texas: lawmakers in Austin and Washington face calls for action on gun laws

State of Texas

AUSTIN (Nexstar) — Governor Abbott promised action, and on Thursday he issued eight executive orders aimed at preventing mass shootings.

The orders came less than a week after seven people were killed in a mass shooting in Odessa. The Governor’s orders focus on finding better ways to identify potential mass shooters.

The orders include plans to increase staffing at “fusion centers” where local, state and federal law enforcement share information and respond to suspicious activity reports. They’ll also be monitoring and analyzing social media and online forums for potential threats.

None of the directives mention guns.

Many Texas Democrats say the Governor needs to do more. They want him to bring lawmakers back to the Capitol for a special session.

“You know who can build a consensus is the Governor,” said State Rep. Donna Howard (D-Austin). She spoke at a news conference outside the Capitol with several other Democratic lawmakers.

“If the Governor speaks up and says he will get behind certain legislation, we will have a consensus,” Howard said.

One idea pushed by Democrats is expanding background checks to cover gun sales made by private citizens. Lt. Governor Dan Patrick signaled that he’s open to considering the idea.

Expanding background checks is also getting attention from Texans who serve on Capitol Hill.

“I think we always ought to look at the circumstances of these shootings and examine our laws to see if something can be done,” Congressman Mac Thornberry (R-Texas) said during an interview on the State of Texas politics program.

“Should we look at background checks? Are there circumstances we ought to require them that we don’t now?  We ought to look at that,” Thornberry said.

“At the same time, if I loan my shotgun to my brother to go quail hunting, I don’t think a background check is appropriate for that circumstance,” Thornberry added. “So that’s why you need to look at the details of these things.”

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