Confronted with mass shootings, Texas Republicans have repeatedly loosened gun laws

Gov. Greg Abbott and other Republican leaders signaled an openness to some gun restrictions after recent mass shootings. But in the last several years, lawmakers have eased gun laws, most notably by passing a permitless carry bill last year.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott at the second of three panels studying school safety and student mental health issues at the Texas Capitol in the wake of the 2018 Santa Fe High School shooting that left eight students and two teachers dead. (Photo by Bob Daemmrich for The Texas Tribune)

Many details remain unknown about this particular tragedy, which has kept some officials from immediately suggesting policy changes or asking to call lawmakers in for a special legislative session. But the political reaction after previous mass shootings in the state has followed a repetitive pattern.

When a then-17-year-old student killed 10 people and injured 13 more in an art classroom in Santa Fe, near Houston, in 2018, Abbott called on state lawmakers to consider a “red flag” law that would allow state courts to take firearms away from a person who presents a danger to themselves or others.

Education advocates are yet again calling for the state to take a different path in response to this attack.

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The law required certain training for school resource officers and emergency response training for school employees, as well as established a threat assessment team to identify potentially dangerous students and determine the best way to intervene before they become violent. It also created a Texas Mental Health Consortium to bring psychiatric professionals together.

After mass shootings, permitless carry passes

This story was originally published by the Texas Tribune. It is republished here with permission.

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Kate Mcgee, Texas Tribune
Kate Mcgee, Texas Tribune

Kate McGee covers higher education for The Texas Tribune. She joins after nearly a decade as a reporter at public radio stations across the country. She most recently covered higher ed at WBEZ in Chicago, but started on the education beat in 2013 at KUT in Austin. She has also worked at NPR affiliates in Washington D.C., New York City and Reno, Nevada. Kate was born in New York City and primarily raised in New Jersey. She graduated from Fordham University. Her work has appeared on NPR’s Morning Edition, All Things Considered, Here and Now, and The Takeaway.

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Jolie McCullough, Texas Tribune
Jolie McCullough, Texas Tribune

Jolie McCullough reports on criminal justice issues and policy for The Texas Tribune, ranging from coverage on policing and courts to prisons and the death penalty. She came to the Tribune in early 2015 from the Albuquerque Journal, and has previously worked at the Arizona Republic. She is a graduate of Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication.

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