Dallas Morning News 

Abbott deserves credit for action after shooting


June 6, 2018

In the melee that is the debate over mass shootings, we can’t help but return to a singular thought: There are a great many reforms that could make a meaningful difference and win broad support, if only they could get a fair hearing.

So we were encouraged to see Texas Gov. Greg Abbott respond to the shooting at Santa Fe High School by holding a series of roundtable discussions with important stakeholders. With the governor now announcing proposals out of those discussions, we are both heartened by what we are hearing and cautious about what is not being said.

First the encouraging news. Abbott’s 40-page plan includes ideas school districts can implement immediately and proposals the Legislature will have to act on down the road. There is no magic elixir among the proposals, but these ideas are substantive and could, in many cases, interrupt the series of events that lead to the murder of so many students in America.

The governor’s proposals include the following:

Expanding the existing School Marshal Program as well as providing funding for increasing police presence at schools.

Creating mental health protection orders, which would enable officials to remove guns from the reach of people deemed dangerous.

Increasing a parental responsibility law so parents can be held responsible if they allow a 17-year-old to have access to a firearm.

Carving out money for more security measures at schools, such as metal detectors.

Installing new active-shooter alarms in schools that would enable students to respond differently than they would during a fire.

Expanding the Telemedicine Wellness, Intervention, Triage and Referral Project at the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center. The program, referred to as TWITR by Abbott, seeks to identify students at risk of committing violence and intervene before they can do so.

Abbott deserves credit for not kicking the can down the road on this issue. Each of these ideas would make it a little harder for a would-be mass shooter to act out his evil intentions. What the gun debate has long needed is leaders who could identify worthwhile ideas and then avoid getting bogged down in the usual political quagmires.

What we didn’t hear from the governor was much on the issue of guns more broadly. We’ve favored a range of restrictions for a simple reason: One crucial step in stopping the next school shooting is restricting access to weaponry that can be used for mass violence.

Abbott says he is open to a special legislative session, if he can build consensus for actionable ideas. In the wake of Santa Fe, where we lost another 10 lives, we hope the Legislature recognizes what is at stake here and is ready to embrace ideas that can save lives.

— The Dallas Morning News


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