Texas governor issues eight executive orders in response to mass shootings

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) on Thursday issued eight executive orders intended to curb mass shootings following gun violence in El Paso and Odessa last month.

The orders signed by Abbott are intended to bolster reporting requirements for law enforcement involving suspicious individuals and raise public awareness about identifying potential mass shooters.

“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,” he added.

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The orders’ provisions include developing standardized intake questions to better identify information that should be reported to the state Suspicious Activity Reporting Network, as well as ordering the Texas Department of Public Safety to develop programs to raise awareness of how such reports are used to flag potential mass shooters.

Abbott’s orders also call on both the state Department of Public Safety and the governor’s office to increase staff at “all fusion centers in Texas” to better monitor social media and online forums for possible threats on top of monitoring suspicious activity reports.

Another order states that “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.”

Abbott issued the orders citing the El Paso shooting that left 22 people dead last month as well as the shooting in West Texas over Labor Day weekend in which a gunman killed seven people and wounded nearly two dozen others. Abbott noted other past shootings in the state as well.

The Texas governor has faced pressure to act in the wake of the deadly shootings. Fellow GOP Gov. Mike DeWine in Ohio also called on his state's GOP-held legislature last month to pass background check legislation after a shooting in that state left nine people dead.

The Odessa shooting on Saturday occurred one day before several new laws in the Lone Star state took effect loosening restrictions on firearms, including one that prevents school districts from regulating how licensed gun owners store their weapons in their vehicles.