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Gov. Greg Abbott has drawn condemnation from Democrats and one teacher's union for his letter asking lawmakers to convene legislative committees.
After demands for a special legislative session following the Uvalde massacre, Gov. Greg Abbott stopped short of that Wednesday, asking lawmakers instead to convene "special legislative committees" to ponder how to prevent future school shootings.
In a letter, the Republican governor said he wants the committees to recommend potential law changes on "school safety, mental health, social media, police training, firearm safety and more." He made no specific mention of restricting access to guns, however.
In the wake of last week's shooting, Democratic lawmakers have called for the legislature to implement safeguards such as raising the minimum age to buy a firearm to 21. The 18-year-old gunman in the Uvalde massacre used an assault rifle that he was able to legally purchase after his birthday.
Democrat Mike Collier, who's running against Abbott ally Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick in November, blasted the governor for refusing to call a special session, something he did three times last year to push GOP-backed culture war legislation.
“We don't need more letters, committees or roundtables — our children need action," Collier said in a written statement. "Under Greg Abbott and Dan Patrick, we have had special sessions to ban books and suppress the vote. Why won’t they hold a special session to protect our children?"
Millions of Texas children will head back to classrooms this fall, Collier said.
"Before then, the State Legislature must convene for a special session to pass laws that will lessen the chance of another tragedy befalling our state," he added. "Anything less than a special session is an insult to every parent who has lost a child to gun violence.”
In an emailed statement, Texas State Teachers Association President Ovidia Molina called Abbott's proposal as "very weak." She noted that the governor created roundtables after the 2019 slaughter of 23 people at an El Paso Walmart and the 2018 shooting at Santa Fe High School that killed 10.
"This is because the governor and legislators refuse to address the real issue and enact reasonable gun laws to keep guns out of the hands of people who shouldn’t have them. The governor didn’t even put this issue on the agenda for the new committees," Molina said.
"The 18-year-old shooter in Uvalde legally purchased the assault rifle, and that should not have been allowed to happen. And only last year, lawmakers passed and Abbott signed a law allowing most adults to carry handguns without any state licensing or safety training."
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