Texas Gov. Greg Abbott issued eight executive orders Thursday in response to last month’s mass shootings in the state, the Texas Tribune reports. The orders focus largely on strengthening law enforcement’s ability to respond to and prevent future shootings, mainly through improving reporting channels and closing “information gaps” when members of the public or law enforcement agencies worry that a person might be a threat to commit violence. Abbott’s office said legislative solutions are still needed.
Abbott’s orders come as state lawmakers grapple with how to respond to two mass shootings in the state. At the beginning of August, a gunman targeting Hispanics in an El Paso Walmart fatally shot 22 people and left more than two dozen injured. Over Labor Day weekend, a gunman killed seven people and injured 22 others during a shooting spree in Odessa and Midland. Republican leaders have assembled task forces and formed select committees to discuss next steps for preventing future massacres. Democrats want Abbott to call a special legislative session to address gun violence. One of Abbott’s orders directs the Texas Department of Public Safety to “develop clear guidance, based on the appropriate legal standard, for when and how Texas law-enforcement agencies should submit Suspicious Activity Reports.” Another order directs the department to work with “local law enforcement, mental-health professionals, school districts, and others to crate multidisciplinary threat assessment teams for each of its regions.” In both mass shootings, law enforcement had been aware of the gunmen before their rampages. Weeks before the El Paso shooter opened fire, his mom called police to express concerns about her son owning a gun. The shooter in West Texas had reportedly called both police and the FBI before the shooting.