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Texas Gov. Greg Abbott on Wednesday called for special committees to be convened to review what can be done in wake of the mass shooting at an Uvalde Elementary School May 24 that left 19 students and two teachers dead.
However, other state leaders urged the governor to call a full special legislative session instead.
Abbott sent a joint letter to Lt. Governor Dan Patrick and Speaker Dade Phelan on Wednesday, asking Texas legislative leaders to convene special legislative committees.
Abbott’s letter reads: “I request that these committees review what steps previous legislatures have enacted, what resources the State has made available to local school districts and make recommendations to the Legislature and the Executive Branch so that meaningful action can be made on.
The committees would review school safety, mental health, social media, police training and firearm safety.
“I look forward to working with you both on this important mission to make Texas safer, and I stand ready to provide any and all support,” Abbott wrote.
The governor added: “It is important to begin the process immediately. In the meantime, the Texas Rangers and the Federal Bureau of Investigation will continue to thoroughly investigate every aspect of this heinous crime, as well as the response to it. The details of those investigations will be provided to you as soon as they are available.”
Several lawmakers have requested Abbott call for a special session of legislatures in response to the deadly school shooting. Otherwise, the Texas Legislature will next convene in 2023.
Abbott’s action was immediately called out by State Sen. Cesar Blanco, D-El Paso, who said while he appreciated Abbott’s efforts, he wants the governor to call a special session to address gun violence in the state.
“We don’t need more roundtables, interim hearings, special committees or talk, we need a special session,” he tweeted.
“Texans deserve immediate action to prevent future tragedies and to pass solutions to help impacted like Uvalde, El Paso, Sante Fe, Sutherlands, Midland Odessa and others heal,” Blanco wrote Wednesday in a letter addressed to Abbott.
Mike Collier, a Democratic candidate running for lieutenant governor, said in a statement the state doesn’t need roundtables or committees, but action for its children.
“In three months, millions of Texas children will head back to their classrooms. Before then, the State Legislature must convene for a special session to pass laws that will lessen the chance of another tragedy befalling our state. Anything less than a special session is an insult to every parent who has lost a child to gun violence,” Collier stated.
The Texas State Teachers Association said Abbott’s call for special legislative committees is “very weak” and that victims’ families and Texans deserve better than that.
An 18-year-old man armed with an assault rifle entered Robb Elementary School May 24, shooting and killing 19 children between the ages of 9 and 10 and their two teachers.
Funerals for two of the children were held Tuesday and for one of the teachers Wednesday. That teacher’s husband, who was remembered in a funeral Wednesday, died of a heart attack two days later. Funerals are expected to continue.