AUSTIN, Texas — In the wake of mass shooting tragedies across the state and after weeks of meetings with nearly 50 experts, Texas Governor Greg Abbott on Thursday released his Texas Safety Action Report.
The report provides more details on his eight executive orders released last week, which are intended to improve public safety coordination to prevent mass shootings. It also provides additional ideas for the Texas Legislation and state agencies to take into consideration in making communities safer while abiding by the Constitution.
Gov. Abbott's Texas Safety Commission brought together community leaders, law enforcement officials, federal officials, business representatives, faith leaders, tech experts, counselors, advocates, lawmakers and mass shooting survivors to review what happened, identify shortcomings in the state's current systems, and to explore ways to prevent these tragedies from happening in the first place. The strategies outlined in the Texas Safety Action Report are a result of these meetings.
"We must act with resolve in response to the despicable acts of violence we have witnessed in Texas," said Gov. Abbott. "Solving the problems that have led to these horrific events will take more than governmental action. The complete solution will require more than what is outlined in this paper. It will require parents, families, churches, law enforcement, community groups, schools and others working together to fortify the social fabric of our society. Texans are at our best when we are tested. Together, we will transcend this test, and forge an even better future for our state."
Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick said Abbott had "put forward a list of important recommendations from those critical meetings."
"Gov. Abbott and I both understand that a background check is needed for stranger-to-stranger gun sales and I am glad he included that issue in his list of recommendations for the Legislature to consider," he said. "I am confident the senators will move forward on these issues and will take a number of steps to make every Texas community safer, which is our shared goal."
Several activist groups in support of tighter gun legislation spoke out Thursday, saying this was a "missed opportunity" for the governor to make serious changes.
“In the wake of El Paso and Odessa, the state is dealing with a lot of heartache and crisis," Texas Gun Sense Board President Ed Scruggs said. "Clear leadership on the background check loophole would have been beneficial for everyone. It’s disappointing we didn’t see that, hopefully we see it in the future.”
Scruggs said he was happy to see suggestions for legislation that would outlaw straw purchases of guns and a recommendation for doing more to prosecute people who lie to get guns.
But he and the rest of Texas Gun Sense were hoping for action or suggestions surrounding the background check loophole that allowed the Odessa shooter to get his gun.
“We weren’t expecting to see the really big things – assault weapons, magazine limits, anything of that nature," Scruggs. "But I think we were expecting to see one or two items, including closing a background check loophole or two, possibly a red flag law recommendation or something similar to that. We didn’t see those.”
While a summary of the report is outlined straight from the governor's office below, you can read the full Texas Safety Action Report here.
Additional Executive Actions
- Strengthen Domestic Violence High Risk Teams across the state.
- Expand law enforcement training offered through the Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training (ALERRT) Center at Texas State University, and develop a public awareness campaign for the “Avoid, Deny, Defend” program.
- Refresh training for all licensed peace officers on the procedures and criteria for “emergency detention.”
- Educate physicians and behavioral health professionals about the law concerning disclosure of confidential information to law enforcement.
- DPS should coordinate with fusion centers across the state to promote continuous improvement and accountability.
- Accelerate the development and implementation of the DPS safe firearm storage campaign, supported by the recent $1 million appropriation.
- The Legislature should consider expediting the reporting of criminal convictions to the Texas Department of Public Safety.
- The Legislature should consider prohibiting straw purchases of firearms under state law. A primary goal is to keep guns out of the hands of criminals while protecting the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens.
- The Legislature should consider laws that crack down on criminals who try to illegally buy or possess guns.
- The Legislature should consider requiring courts to inform convicted criminals, both orally and in writing, that they may no longer possess firearms.
- The Legislature should consider stiffer consequences for criminals convicted of violent offenses.
- The Legislature could consider requiring that any stolen firearms be reported to the county sheriff within 10 days of when the owner becomes aware of the theft.
- The Legislature should consider ways to make it easy, affordable, and beneficial for a private seller of firearms to voluntarily use background checks when selling firearms to strangers.
- The Legislature should consider prohibiting juvenile offenders convicted of certain violent crimes from legally purchasing firearms.
- The Legislature should spur cooperation to encourage social media companies to report suspicious activity to law enforcement.
- The Legislature should consider implementing and funding a Texas program, similar to federal initiatives, which uses a multi-pronged strategy of policing and prosecution, agency integration, and identification of violent crime hot spots. The focus would be on criminals with guns, not law-abiding Texans.
- The Legislature should consider a law that works in conjunction with the proposed federal “Protecting Communities and Preserving the Second Amendment Act” of 2019.
- The Legislature should work with the TEA to develop strategies to improve parental engagement in schools.
- When updating the Health TEKS, the State Board of Education (SBOE) should emphasize student mental health issues, including depression, social media immersion, and drug abuse.
- The Legislature should consider amending state law to ensure schools are notified when former students are arrested.
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