In the wake of any mass shooting, people want answers. For politicians, those incidents are calls for them to “do something.” They are usually pressured to step in and pass some laws that would, in theory, have helped prevent whatever the tragedy was. This is pretty normal, and even gun free Texas isn’t exempt from the “do something” bug.
However, their version of “do something” might just be something that will make a difference, rather than just blaming guns for what maniacs do.
Abbott spoke a day after visiting Santa Fe High School on its first day of classes since the May 18 shooting that left 10 people dead.
“We want action to prevent another shooting” like Santa Fe, Abbott said.
Abbott spoke about “school-hardening strategies,” such as reducing the number of entries and exits at schools and having “active shooter alarm systems” that can be easily distinguished from a fire alarm. That approach, he said, would help students and staff respond appropriately — and avoid sending students into hallways where they might be targeted by an active shooter.
The governor also said state law should be changed to force courts to report a mental health adjudication that someone is “mentally unfit to have a gun” more quickly. The law should tighten that deadline to 48 hours from the current 30 days, Abbott said.
Abbott’s plan calls for adding school marshals — teachers who are licensed to carry firearms and go through training — as well as increasing the number of marshals per campus.
Noting that social media often contains clues about shooters’ intentions before they act, Abbott said he wants to expand a program that has been tested in West Texas, which “uses mental health screenings to identify students at risk of committing violence,” Abbott said. Called the Telemedicine Wellness, Intervention, Triage and Referral Project, the approach has been led by Texas Tech University.
Abbott also called for increased police presence in schools. One suggestion is to add the buildings themselves to their regular rounds. Another was to provide officers with a place to fill out their reports. This would put them in the school at variable hours, thus making it difficult for any potential shooters to know just when the officers were on the premises.
Most of these measures may well make a difference. However, even Texas isn’t immune to some anti-gun owner nonsense. For example, there is talk of Texas adopting extreme risk protective orders, which may well take away individual’s due process rights unless worded very carefully. Then, there was this tidbit.
Another proposal calls for requiring gun owners to report when their weapons are lost or stolen.
That is all fine and good…if they know about it. If Junior grabs the shotgun out of Daddy’s closet, will Daddy even know it’s missing? I can easily see this being used to punish people who didn’t do anything but insufficiently secure a firearm. Did Junior use your gun without your permission? Here’s a charge for not reporting it. You didn’t know it was missing? Not my problem.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I think everyone should report missing guns. However, I fail to see how this law will do much of anything to prevent a mass shooting, and I don’t think the law should require people to report missing property.
Still, for the most part, these proposals are pretty reasonable minus the gun-related ones, and even those aren’t as bad as they easily could have been. We’ll have to see which ones pan out.