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Texas governor issues 8 executive orders after double mass shootings in August

Texas domestic terrorism task force

Texas Governor Greg Abbott issued eight executive orders Thursday that aim to stop potential mass shooters by strengthening reporting techniques, although he conceded in a release that "legislative action" is still needed. Abbott's orders come as the Lone Star State reels from two mass shootings in August that left 29 people dead.

"Texas must achieve several objectives to better protect our communities and our residents from mass shootings" Abbott said in a statement. "One of those objectives is to marshal law enforcement resources to stop violent criminals before they commit mass murders. But more must be done. I will continue to work expeditiously with the legislature on laws to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous criminals, while safeguarding the 2nd Amendment rights of law-abiding Texans."

In a press release, Abbott's office noted that the El Paso suspect's mother had alerted authorities weeks before his shooting rampage and the Midland-Odessa gunman had called both local and federal authorities prior to that shooting. The new orders are aimed at closing what Abbott called the "information gap" when there is suspicion of a mass shooter.

At Least 7 Dead And 21 Injured In Mass Shooting In Odessa And Midland, Texas
Texas Governor Greg Abbott seen Sept. 1, 2019, in Odessa, Texas.  Getty

Abbott has been fending off calls for gun control by Democrats in the Texas House in the wake of the shootings. On Wednesday, 63 of the 66 Texas House Democrats signed a letter calling for a special legislative session. The proposals include "closing the background check loopholes" and "banning the sale of high-capacity magazines," according to CBS Austin

The Legislature does not reconvene until 2021, but Abbott tweeted Wednesday that he will announce "legislative considerations next week."

Texas' Republican-controlled Legislature earlier this year approved a series of loosened gun laws that went into effect one day after the Midland-Odessa shooting, which left seven people dead and injured dozens more. 

The laws that took effect Sunday will:

  • Allow licensed handgun owners to carry weapons in places of worship, including churches and synagogues.
  • Ban landlords and homeowners from prohibiting tenants to own, carry and transport guns on their property.
  • Prevent school districts from prohibiting licensed gun owners — including school employees — from storing guns and ammunition in school parking lots as long as it is not in plain view.
  • Allow foster homes to store firearms.
  • Prevent citizens for being charged for carrying a handgun without a license while evacuating or returning to a declared disaster zone.
  • Allow disaster shelters to take in evacuees who have guns.
  • Allow schools to have more armed marshals on campus.
  • Defend licensed gun owners who unknowingly enter designated gun-free zones as long as they leave after being told about the policy.

Jason Silverstein contributed to this report. 

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