AUSTIN, Texas (AP) – Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s meetings on school violence and safety promised to wade into the thorny issue of gun control with the next round, even though the Republican has been a staunch supporter of gun rights and worked to expand them in the state in recent years.
Abbott called for a series of high-level policy meetings after a high school near Houston became the latest to have a mass shooting. Eight students and two teachers were killed last week at Santa Fe High School and more than a dozen wounded.
Wednesday’s meeting will include representatives of gun control group Texas Gun Sense and the Texas State Rifle Association, which is affiliated with the National Rifle Association. A Texas Gun Sense official has said the group will press for tougher background checks for gun sales, and "red flag" laws that keep guns away from people deemed a danger to themselves or others.
But the gun-related groups are just two of the two dozen invited to attend. Like Tuesday’s meeting, Wednesday looks to have a heavy discussion on tracking student mental health.
Abbott says he wants to keep guns away from people "who would try to murder our children." But critics say Texas isn’t serious about changing its gun-loving culture.
The governor has long championed expanding gun rights in Texas, signing bills in recent years that reduced the cost and training to get a handgun license, and allowing the state’s 1.2 million license holders to openly carry their weapons in public. Texas also allows rifles to be openly carried in public. Those bills were strongly supported by the NRA affiliate attending Wednesday’s meeting.
Police have said the 17-year-old suspect in the Santa Fe High School shooting used his father’s shotgun and .38-caliber handgun.
The reaction in Texas to the shooting stands in sharp contrast to the response after the Feb. 14 rampage at a high school in Parkland, Florida, that killed 17 people. Three weeks after that mass shooting, Florida politicians defied the NRA and passed a gun-control package after a lobbying campaign led by student survivors of the attack.
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