Gov. Greg Abbott issues eight executive orders aimed at stopping potential mass shooters

September 7, 2019 in News by RBN Staff


The orders focus largely on improving reporting channels when members of the public or law enforcement agencies worry that a person might become violent.

Gov. Greg Abbott issued eight executive orders Thursday in response to last month’s mass shootings in El Paso and Odessa.

“Texas must achieve several objectives to better protect our communities and our residents from mass shootings,” Abbott said in a statement. “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.”

The orders focus largely on strengthening law enforcement’s ability to respond to and prevent future shootings, mainly through improving reporting channels and closing “information gaps” when members of the public or law enforcement agencies worry that a person might be a threat to commit violence. But, Abbott’s office added in a news release, “legislative solutions are still needed.”

The governor also plans to release a report of recommendations next week from meetings of the Texas Safety Commission, which Abbott formed after the El Paso shooting.

The actions by Abbott come as state lawmakers grapple with how to respond to last month’s tragedies in El Paso, Odessa and Midland. At the beginning of August, a gunman targeting Hispanics in an El Paso Walmart fatally shot 22 people and left more than two dozen injured. Then, over Labor Day weekend, a gunman killed seven people and injured 22 others during a shooting spree in Odessa and Midland.

In the wake of the mass shootings, GOP leaders have assembled task forces and formed select legislative committees to discuss next steps for preventing future massacres. Democrats, meanwhile, have urged Abbott to call a special legislative session to address gun violence.

One of Abbott’s executive orders directs the Texas Department of Public Safety to “develop clear guidance, based on the appropriate legal standard, for when and how Texas law-enforcement agencies should submit Suspicious Activity Reports.” Another order directs the department to work with “local law enforcement, mental-health professionals, school districts, and others to crate multidisciplinary threat assessment teams for each of its regions.”

In both mass shootings, law enforcement had been aware of the gunmen prior to their rampages. Weeks before the El Paso shooter opened fire, his mom had called police to express concerns about her son owning a gun, according to news reports. And the shooter in West Texas had reportedly called both police and the FBI before the shooting.