POLITICS

Texas Governor's Executive Orders After Mass Shootings Don’t Touch Gun Control

Gov. Greg Abbott, an avid gun-rights supporter, avoided taking any action around gun purchases.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) released a series of executive orders on Thursday in response to two recent mass shootings in the state ― and none of them address gun control. 

The Republican governor, an avid gun-rights advocate, issued eight orders, including one requiring the department of public safety to develop guidance for how law enforcement agencies should submit reports on suspicious activity. Another aimed to create an awareness-raising initiative for the public to be “more likely to report information about potential gunmen.”

In his announcement, the governor acknowledged that “more must be done,” and said he would work “expeditiously” with lawmakers on “laws to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous criminals, while safeguarding the 2nd Amendment rights of law-abiding Texans.” 

It is unclear what legislative measures Abbott plans to push. HuffPost reached out to Abbott for comment but did not immediately receive a response. 

As of this month, it is now even easier to carry guns in Texas churches, schools and more, due to several bills passed by Texas lawmakers in May and later signed by Abbott, which loosened the state’s already lenient restrictions on guns. 

The National Rifle Association ― which has given Abbott an “A” rating for being “pro-gun” ― praised the recent bills as “NRA-supported legislation.” 

Presidential candidate and former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas) ― who has issued policy plans and emotional pleas for gun control after the mass shootings in his home state ― was quick to point out what was missing from Abbott’s executive action plan: 

In recent years, the state has seen several high-profile mass shootings on its soil, including a 2018 school shooting in Santa Fe that left 10 people dead and a 2017 church shooting near San Antonio that left 26 people dead, half of whom were children. 

Last month, a white man shot and killed 22 people with an AR-style weapon in El Paso, Texas, after posting a racist, anti-immigrant manifesto railing against a “Hispanic invasion” of the state. And over Labor Day weekend, a white male suspect shot and killed seven people with an AR-style weapon in a shooting spree in Odessa, Texas. 

In other states, governors have used their executive powers to take action on guns in the past. 

In August, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf (D) announced an executive order on guns, including increasing data sharing across law enforcement agencies, expanding the state’s gun buyback program and increasing surveillance on hate groups to prevent mass shootings. Wolf also called on legislators to mandate universal background checks on all gun purchases. 

In North Carolina, Gov. Roy Cooper (D) signed an executive directive on guns last month, including strengthening background checks by increasing data sharing between the state and the federal background check system. 

Under current Texas laws, legal gun owners don’t need an additional permit to carry long guns ― like the ones used in the El Paso and Odessa shootings ― in unrestricted public areas. There is also no background check requirement for private sales, a loophole through which the Odessa shooter, who had failed a 2014 background check, was able to buy the gun he used. 

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