TEXAS, USA — On Wednesday, Gov. Greg Abbott sent a letter to Lt. Governor Dan Patrick and Speaker of the House of Dade Phelan requesting they convene a special legislative committee in both the House and Senate to address violence in Texas schools.
"We as a State must reassess the twin issues of school safety and mass violence," Abbott stated, "As leaders, we must come together at this time to provide solutions to protect all Texans."
Abbott requested the committees review the steps previous legislatures have enacted and make recommendations on five topics to "prevent school shootings." Those topics were listed as school safety, mental health, social media, police training and firearm safety.
But the fact is, the state already tackled this issue in the last four years. In fact, the state tackled it twice.
In May of 2018, a 17-year-old entered Santa Fe High School near Houston and began shooting. He killed 10 people and wounded 13 others.
According to the Texas Tribune, Abbott started roundtable discussions in the same month to address the violence. After a series of talks on arming teachers, school safety measures, mental health and bullying, the governor worked with state leaders to create a School and Firearm Safety Action Plan.
The plan was released May 30, 2018.
A year later, Abbott signed multiple bills to address the issue after the 2019 legislative session. The bills included Senate Bill 11, which required specific training for school resource officers, requirements to train for emergencies and funding grants for school counseling.
The state also passed House Bill 1387. According to the Texas Tribune, this bill would allow schools to designate more school marshals to be armed and trained. Previously, the marshal program only allowed one marshal per 200 students.
The legislature also considered a “red flag” law, which would identify persons who are a danger to themselves or others and would create a way to pre-emptively disarm them. The idea died after strong opposition in the legislature.
Then, three months after Abbott signed those bills, a 36-year-old gunman killed seven people and injured 25 in Odessa.
Afterward, then-House-Speaker Dennis Bonnen asked for a special committee to begin studying issues related to gun violence, according to the Texas Tribune. The house committee was later called the "House Select Committee on Mass Violence Prevention & Community Safety."
Abbott supported that call and said in a statement, "Texas will not stand by and allow violence to continue to rip apart our families and communities. As I said in Odessa, words alone are inadequate as we face this challenge. Words must be followed by meaningful action to prevent these senseless and devastating attacks. I applaud the House and Senate for establishing these committees, and Texas lawmakers have my full support as we work together to put an end to this violence."
Abbott would later sign eight executive orders designed to help law enforcement "improve reporting channels," according to the Texas Tribune.
Meanwhile, the House Select Committee on Mass Violence Prevention & Community Safety released a preliminary report in December of 2019. The committee had additional meetings scheduled by 6 News could not find any additional reports from the committee or additional activity after early 2020.