“I’m tired of the dying,” Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said after the most recent mass shooting in the Lone Star State. But now, less than a week after the Odessa massacre, he's rolled out eight executive orders to combat future mass shootings — and not a single one makes any mention of guns.“We need solutions that will keep guns out of the hands of people like the killer in Odessa while also ensuring we safeguard Second Amendment rights, and we must do it fast,” Abbott had said the day after the gunman went on a spree that left seven dead and 22 injured.
But the new orders mostly focus on sharing information about suspicious activity between state and local law enforcement agencies, and raising public awareness about what sort of activity civilians should report to authorities. The eighth order says that, as of January 2020, grant money will only be allocated to counties that report 90% of convictions to the Texas Department of Safety’s criminal justice database within seven business days. Former NRA spokeswoman Dana Loesch called the orders “a positive step.”
Abbott, who has an “A” rating from the NRA, has found himself under increasing scrutiny for his hard-line pro-gun position.Some of the worst mass shootings in recent years have taken place in Texas: the shooting at a Sutherland Springs church in November 2017 that left 27 dead, the massacre at a Santa Fe high school in May 2018 that left 10 dead, the slaughter of 22 at a Walmart in El Paso last month.Even as the body count from mass shootings rises, Abbott has sought to expand gun laws rather than tighten them. This year, Abbott signed all 10 NRA-backed bills passed by the Texas legislature, including allowing guns in places of worship and limiting school district’s ability to ban employees from leaving guns in their cars. All ten of those measures went into effect on Sept. 1, one day after the Odessa shooting.Abbott also rejected calls from Texas House Democrats to convene a special legislative session on gun violence. Texas’ legislature meets every two years, meaning they won’t have a chance to discuss possible gun control legislation until 2021. “Legislators can be part of the process or part of the problem,” Abbott, who has the sole authority to call a special session, wrote on Twitter on Wednesday.The governor has also signaled that he plans to roll out a legislative package next week “for consideration” and was exploring the possibility of expedited executions for mass shooters (the DOJ is said to be weighing a similar idea).But some Texas Democrats are getting impatient, and many are skeptical that Abbott’s legislative package will include any measures to directly curb gun violence, like red flag laws, which give law enforcement a way to temporarily confiscate firearms from people deemed to be a danger to themselves or others. The idea was floated after the shooting at Santa Fe High School in 2018, but it was squashed by Republicans."This is the kind of thing our constituents are telling us they want us to tackle, and they want us to tackle it now," state Rep. Donna Howard, a Democrat whose district includes Austin, said at a press conference this week. “We should not sacrifice any more Texas lives simply to accommodate a legislative calendar.”