Texas Gov. Greg Abbott issues 8 executive orders aimed at preventing mass shootings

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott issued eight executive orders aimed at preventing more mass shootings in the Lone Star State, his office announced on Thursday.

The orders come less than a week after a shooting rampage in West Texas left seven people dead and a month after 22 people were killed at a Walmart in El Paso. On Sunday, new laws went into effect in the state that loosen gun restrictions.

Among the measures signed by Abbott are new orders that mandate that the Texas Department of Public Safety improve the process of reporting information to the Texas Suspicious Activity Reporting Network within 30 days. Abbott also directed the Department of Public Safety to “develop clear guidance, based on the appropriate legal standard,” on how law enforcement should submit reports, which also are due within 30 days. Training on the new reporting standards is to be available to law enforcement within 60 days.

Another order immediately requires informing the public on how the reports to the network are used to identify potential mass shooters or terrorist threats.

Abbott also signed an order to mandate increased staffing at law enforcement fusion centers to better monitor online activity for potential threats and an order requiring that public safety officials work with mental health professionals and schools in creating threat assessment teams for their areas. Counties that receive grants from the governor’s office are to report “at least 90% of convictions within seven business days” to the Texas Department of Public Safety starting January 1, 2020, and the reporting must take place within five business days by January 1, 2021.

The governor’s office said the new orders are a “starting point in the process to keep Texas communities safe” and that legislative action is needed.

“Texas must achieve several objectives to better protect our communities and our residents from mass shootings,” Abbott said in a statement. “One of those objectives is to marshal law enforcement resources to stop violent criminals before they commit mass murders. But more must be done. 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.”

In August, Abbott announced that he had created a Domestic Terrorism Task Force, a team of local and state officials and law enforcement that will meet quarterly to analyze potential threats. The task force will also aim to develop tools and resources to fight domestic terrorism.

Abbott’s office said a report of findings and recommendations from meetings with the Texas Safety Commission will be released next week.

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