Texas Safety Commission discusses guns, terrorism

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, Gov. Greg Abbott and House Speaker Dennis Bonnen at a meeting of the Texas Safety Commission at the Texas Capitol on Aug. 22, 2019. (Marjorie Kamys Cotera for The Texas Tribune photo)

Texas Safety Commission discusses guns, terrorism

 

Gov. Greg Abbott on Thursday convened the first meeting of the newly formed Texas Safety Commission, ramping up the state’s efforts to devise policy solutions in the wake of the deadly shooting targeting immigrants and Hispanics earlier this month in El Paso.

For over four hours, the commission — which includes state leaders, lawmakers and law enforcement officials — met behind closed doors at the Capitol in what Abbott described as the “next step to make sure that we respond robustly and rapidly to the” El Paso attack.

Twenty-two people were killed and more than two dozen wounded in the El Paso shooting, which took place Aug. 3 at a Walmart. Authorities believe the gunman, who was arrested and charged with capital murder, published an anti-immigrant manifesto shortly before the massacre, railing against a “Hispanic invasion of Texas.”

Thursday was the first of two meetings that are planned for the safety commission, with the second one scheduled for next Thursday in El Paso.

Before the safety commission meeting, Gun Owners of America, a hardline gun rights group, held a news conference outside the Capitol warning the commission against pursuing any proposals that would infringe on the Second Amendment.

The party pointed to an Abbott fundraising letter, which surfaced Thursday morning, that was dated the day before the El Paso shooting and used alarmist language to emphasize the need to “DEFEND” the Texas border. Asked if that kind of incendiary rhetoric came up in the meeting, the El Paso lawmakers said there was discussion — including a “very poignant moment,” according to Rep. Joe Moody — about the language everyone uses going forward.

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