Texas’ Governor Greg Abbott ( @GovAbbott ) isn’t trying to change Texas law with last week’s Executive Order – in contrast to the claims I’ve seen on my Facebook news feed.
Instead, he called for law enforcement agencies under the executive branch to establish policies and training, and financial incentives to encourage “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.“
The last three mass shootings in Texas tell us that we need to improve how our law enforcement and agencies follow current law on following up on reports and investigations.
The Sutherland Springs Church shooter in South Texas should have been rejected at point of sale background check because of his prior conviction and incarceration for domestic violence crimes while in the military. Unfortunately, he was never reported to the Federal database. (And so, Texas law probably couldn’t have made any difference.)
However, the Odessa shooter threatened and brandished a weapon at his neighbor, but local Law Enforcement Officers didn’t follow up because his house wasn’t on their GPS maps and was difficult to find!
The El Paso shooter’s mother tried to report him, but the LEO who spoke to her on the phone dismissed her concerns. No record of the call was made, according to the Allen police department.
I’m not sure that current laws would have (or should have) allowed any action against the (future) shooter by authorities, but it looks like that question and reporting procedures are what Governor Abbott wants clarified. From the Executive Order:
“”Within thirty days of this order, the Texas Department of Public Safety shall develop standardized intake questions that can be used by all Texas law-enforcement agencies to better identify whether a person calling the agency has information that should be reported to the Texas Suspicious Activity Reporting Network.
Within thirty days of this order, the Department of Public Safety shall develop clear guidance, based on the appropriate legal standard, for when and how Texas law-enforcement agencies should submit Suspicious Activity Reports.”‘
The question should be whether the “standardized questions” and reporting processes might have made a difference. Unfortunately, I’m not reading questions: I’m reading accusations that the Governor wants to impose “red flag laws” and confiscation of guns without due process of law.
The Governor previously directed the Texas Department of Public Safety to implement the “iWatch app” in June, 2018, allowing the public to report suspicious activity. There was no outcry then, and there doesn’t appear to be any “red flag” incidents because of this initiative.
Why do people think the Governor wants gun control now?