Governor's Safety Commission Explores Strategies for Fighting Gun Violence

The talk was heavy on stepped up surveillance and monitoring of social media and Internet chat rooms, and light on new gun restrictions, as Gov. Abbott chaired the first meeting of the Safety Commission, which was appointed following the El Paso shooting to come up with suggestions to reduce gun violence, New Radio 1200 WOAI reports.

The governor suggested the creation of 'regional threat teams' which could move quickly to find those who 'present a threat to themselves and others.'

"We are looking at regional threat assessment teams that focus on issues, like what happened in the El Paso shootings, or other domestic terrorism incidents," he said following the meeting.

The governor also suggested stronger cooperation with social media companies, which are stepping up their monitoring of threats and extremist activity on their sites, as well as making better efforts to share intelligence among loncal law enforcement agencies, pointing out the fact that the El Paso gunman traveled 800 miles from north of Dallas to El Paso to carry out his attack.

While Abbott and other members of the Commission said new gun ownership restrictions were not proposed, the governor did say ways to tighten existing laws were addressed. He said the state can do a better job preventing 'straw purchasers' from buying guns particularly for a person who is excluded from gun purchases under federal law.

"Right now, there is nothing in law that would prevent one stranger from selling a gun to a terrorist," he said. "Ovviously thats a danger that needs to be looked into."

Commission members said red flag laws, which are the centerpiece of the federal discussion following El Paso, were discussed, but in the method of discussing, for example, whether people who are under protective orders should be stripped of their firearms. There was also talk of fixing 'loopholes' in the state's background check system, but not of expanding it to include, for example, private purchases made at gun shows.

Outside the meeting, the Texas chapter of the Gun Owners of America stressed that the vast majority of firearm owners are law abiding citizens, and far more potential tragedies are averted by a 'good guy with a gun' stopping an incident from ever occuring that we know.

The next meeting of the Commission will take place in El Paso, and will seek out input from victims of the August 3rd shooting and from the relatives and friends of the survivors.

Abbott also spoke directly to them during the session.

"We know that you feel that you are attacked as human beings," he said. "We want you to know that the people of Texas are standing shoulder to shoulder with you in this healing process."


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