Governor Greg Abbott signed eight executive orders on Thursday, September 7, 2019 to address the problems emerging from shootings in El Paso and Odessa.
“Texas must achieve several objectives to better protect our communities and our residents from mass shootings,” the Texas Governor declared 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.”
These orders allegedly focus on bolstering law enforcement’s ability to respond and prevent future shootings by streamlining reporting channels and closing “information gaps” when citizens or law enforcement agencies believe that a person might be a threat to commit violence. However, Abbott’s office commented in a news release that “legislative solutions are still needed.”
Abbott also intends to release a report of recommendations next week from meetings of the Texas Safety Commission, which was formed in the aftermath of the El Paso shooting.
- Within thirty days of this order, the Texas Department of Public Safety shall develop standardized intake questions that can be used by all Texas law-enforcement agencies to better identify whether a person calling the agency has information that should be reported to the Texas Suspicious Activity Reporting Network.
- Within thirty days of this order, the Department of Public Safety shall develop clear guidance, based on the appropriate legal standard, for when and how Texas law-enforcement agencies should submit Suspicious Activity Reports.
- Within sixty days of this order, the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement shall make training available to educate all law-enforcement officers regarding the standards that will be developed pursuant to Order No. 1 and Order No. 2.
- The Department of Public Safety shall create and conduct an initiative to raise public awareness and understanding of how Suspicious Activity Reports are used by law-enforcement agencies to identify potential mass shooters or terroristic threats, so that the general public and friends, family members, coworkers, neighbors, and classmates will be more likely to report information about potential gunmen.
- The Department of Public Safety shall work with the Texas Education Agency and the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board on ways to better inform schools, students, staff, and families about the importance of Suspicious Activity Reports and how to initiate that process.
- The Department of Public Safety shall work with local law enforcement, mental-health professionals, school districts, and others to create multidisciplinary threat assessment teams for each of its regions, and when appropriate shall coordinate with federal partners.
- The Department of Public Safety, as well as the Office of the Governor, shall use all available resources to increase staff at all fusion centers in Texas for the purpose of better collecting and responding to Suspicious Activity Reports, and better monitoring and analyzing social media and other online forums, for potential threats.
- Beginning January 1, 2020, all future grant awards from the Office of the Governor to counties shall require a commitment that the county will report at least 90 percent of convictions within seven business days to the Criminal Justice Information System at the Department of Public Safety. By January 1, 2021, such reporting must take place within five business days.
For now, gun owners can breathe a sigh of relief. None of Abbott’s orders involve direct legislative actions that would fundamentally alter Texas’ laws and put it on an anti-gun path.
However, the fact that Abbott did not try to go on offense and re-assert any type of pro-gun action shows that the Texas GOP is still playing defense on gun rights. Against the ever-expanding Left, this is not enough and only makes them more emboldened in their activism. The battle is far from over in Texas and gun owners must remain vigilant as more Republicans could possibly succumb to anti-gun pressure and endorse certains forms of gun control.