Many Texas gun right supporters raised their eyebrows last week when, in his press conference from Santa Fe, Governor Greg Abbott had this to say about where we go from here:
“So, beginning immediately, I’m going to be working with members of the Texas Legislature, but also with members of our communities from across the state of Texas to begin with roundtable discussions beginning next week where we will assemble all stakeholders to begin to work immediately on swift solutions to prevent tragedies like this from ever happening again,”
If you didn’t know any better, you might think those were the words of someone like Dannel Malloy, Andrew Cuomo or even Rick Scott.
“We want to hear from parents, we want to hear from students, we want to hear from educators, we want to hear from concerned citizens, we want to hear from those who hold the Second Amendment right in high esteem, and we want to hear from everybody who has an interest in what has happened today so we can work together on putting together laws that will protect Second Amendment rights but at the same make sure our communities and especially our schools are safer places.”
Abbott then mentioned that ideas under consideration would include more resources (read: money) for armed security in schools, faster background checks and figuring out how to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous individuals. Whatever that means. It’s already legal for districts in the state to allow teachers to carry concealed weapons.
But in case you hadn’t noticed, Texas isn’t Florida, let alone Connecticut (a fact that even the New York Times has managed to deduce). Republicans control every branch of state government and Abbott’s been a frequent, dependable and vocal promoter of gun rights and the Second Amendment. He’s supported both open carry and campus carry in the state and signed both into law.
— Greg Abbott (@GregAbbott_TX) October 28, 2015
So following up on his speech on Friday, the Governor’s planned a series of roundtable meetings starting tomorrow.
From Tuesday through Thursday, Abbott, a Republican, will meet at the Capitol with shooting survivors, students, parents, teachers and advocates on both sides of the gun debate. Tuesday’s discussion will seek input from school administrators and law enforcement leaders on ways to improve school security. …
The lawmakers will hear from prominent statewide leaders — Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steve McCraw and Texas Education Agency Commissioner Mike Morath — as well as local school officials and law enforcement agencies working with districts to create safety programs. Other experts on school design and active shooter response plans were asked to attend.
Our guess is that the result of these meetings will be a white paper and possible legislation aimed at making schools harder targets. Restricting outside access, use of metal detectors, adding more armedSchool Resource Officers and encouraging more districts to allow teachers, administrators and other employees to carry firearms, if they wish.
As for anything even approaching what the Florida legislature and Governor did following Parkland — raising the minimum age to buy firearms, banning bump fire stocks and instituting a three-day waiting period on long gun purchases — you’ll probably sooner see the Governor propose a bill outlawing barbecued brisket and Lone Star Beer.
As The Times noted,
“Florida is a swing state,” said Calvin Jillson, a professor of political science at Southern Methodist University in Dallas. “You start with the understanding that Florida is a purple state in which Democrats and Republicans are both competitive. Texas is a deep-red state, in which the Republican Party is in complete and total control. They don’t feel that partisan electoral heat.”
Here’s the Governor’s official statement about the roundtable meetings he’s just released:
Governor Greg Abbott today announced he will host a series of roundtable sessions, beginning tomorrow, to generate solutions that improve safety and security at Texas schools and in our communities. The roundtables will include voices from across Texas, including parents, teachers, students, legislators, and interest groups that advocate for and against further gun regulations. Additionally, the roundtables will include opinions from school administrators that allow the arming of teachers and those that do not, as well as experts on matters of school safety, mental health, law enforcement, bullying, and more. Victims, educators, and family members from Santa Fe, Sutherland Springs, Alpine and Italy, TX are also being invited to participate in a roundtable discussion later this week.
The first roundtable will be held on Tuesday, May 22, 2018 at the Texas Capitol, and will seek input from education and law enforcement leaders on how to improve security in Texas school districts, as well as strategies that benefit our communities. Participants will include administrators from school districts that participate in the School Marshal Program, as well as administrators from school districts that partner with local law enforcement, and more. Further details on tomorrow’s roundtable will be distributed immediately.
“I am seeking the best solutions to make our schools more secure and to keep our communities safe,” said Governor Abbott. “I look forward to hearing from all sides of the debate, and from expert perspectives on these issues. Working together, we can ensure a safe learning environment for students and safer communities for all Texans.”
Additional roundtables will be held on Wednesday, May 23 and Thursday, May 24 at the Texas Capitol. More details about those roundtables will be issued a day in advance.