After a gunman opened fire at Santa Fe High School last month, killing eight students and two teachers, Gov. Greg Abbott quickly convened a series of roundtables to discuss school safety.
At the roundtables, Abbott met with teachers, students, parents, victims from Santa Fe, teachers, law enforcement and more to gather information on how to make schools safer.
Late last month, Abbott released his school safety plan, which contains 40 recommendations to make schools safer. The plan, called the School and Firearm Safety Action Plan, includes ideas such as increasing law enforcement at schools, enhanced firearm safety, strengthening campus security programs and providing mental health evaluations that identify at-risk students.
“This plan is a starting point, not an ending place,” said Abbott. “It provides strategies that can be used before the next school year begins to keep our students safe when they return to school. This plan will make our schools safer and our communities safer.”
In addition, Abbott will also ask Texas Senate and House leaders to issue an interim charge to consider the merits of adopting a “red flag” law allowing law enforcement, a family member, school employee or a district attorney to file a petition seeking the removal of firearms from a potentially dangerous person, only after legal due process is provided.
The recommendations identify nearly $110 million in total funding, including $70 million that is already or will soon be available to begin the work. Additionally, the governor has identified a specific need for $30 million that he will work with the Legislature to fund next session.
Some of the plan is specific to Santa Fe ISD in response to the shooting. Abbott will make funding available to the district through grants to do the following in Santa Fe.
• Deploying crisis response counselors to meet immediate mental health needs.
• Assisting Texas Health and Human Services Commission efforts to provide a long-term behavioral health response.
• Ensuring first responders have mental health resources.
• Providing additional counselors to ISDs in the Santa Fe area.
• Providing highly-trained counselors to Santa Fe ISD for the upcoming school year.
• Coordinating long-term community mental health efforts.
In addition, the governor has worked with the U.S. Department of Education to immediately deliver $1 million to Santa Fe ISD through the School Emergency Response to Violence program.
One of the biggest aspects of making schools safer is immediately increasing law enforcement personnel on campuses across the state. The governor urges districts to collaborate with local law enforcement to have more officers on campus. In addition, he encourages districts to hire retired police officers and military veterans for school security.
In addition, the governor wants to add more school marshals on campus and allow those marshals to carry guns after they are trained properly. School marshals must be school employees, have a valid concealed carry permit, receive training from the state and pass a psychological exam.
The plan also proposed increased mental health access on campus and will remove students from class that threaten teachers.
One thing the plan does not do is propose major changes to the state’s gun law.
While Abbott does suggest a study that could lead to a protective order law, which would keep guns away from anyone considered a risk, he specifically states any move must follow due process to protect the Second Amendment.
The governor is also proposing a state requirement that courts and law enforcement update the federal reporting requirements within 48 hours to ensure those not allowed to purchase guns cannot slip through before the federal database is updated. The requirements will include protective orders, family-violence convictions and other felony convictions.
The governor is also proposing a new law that will require gun owners to report any stolen or lost guns within 10 days.