Texas Governor Continues Roundtable Discussions On School Shooting Prevention
AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:
Five days after the deadly shooting at Santa Fe High School, Texas Governor Greg Abbott is spending time this week in roundtable discussions with lawmakers, politicians and law enforcement. They're trying to brainstorm new ideas on how to keep schools safe. Today Abbott is speaking with local pro-gun rights groups and local pro-gun control group. Yesterday, the focus was school safety. Allen Banks was there. He's the police chief of Round Rock, Texas, a suburb of Austin. I asked Chief Banks about one of the ideas discussed at the roundtable, whether and how to hold parents accountable for the actions of their children.
ALLEN BANKS: Some of the conversation had to do with students that are troubled or they cause mischief in the schools, disruption of schools. Well, at what point do you get the parents involved and make sure the parents know what's going on and, in some cases, hold the parents accountable for the actions of their child?
If we take the time to put things in place to help us prevent any one of our children from being killed while they go to school, then we have to do something. We can't just sit back and say, well, we'll wait for the next one or maybe we can do this or maybe we can wait on a budget. We have to take some form of action now. We've had too many of our students who've been killed. And enough's enough.
CORNISH: On the issue of parent accountability, one question that critics have raised is the fact that the shooter's father had a gun and that these were the weapons used in the shooting.
BANKS: That's correct. I've heard that information as well. When it comes to parent accountability, absolutely. If you're putting guns and you're not taking care of your guns and you're not locking up your guns and your child gets a hold of them and then causes havoc and death, then, yeah, you should be looked at. And you should be held accountable.
CORNISH: Today's roundtables are supposed to talk about guns. And you're not at that today. But where do you think that comes into play in this conversation going forward? You know, we're dealing with Texas. Right? So there's obviously robust gun culture. What would you like to see happen?
BANKS: You know, that's going to be a slippery slope. That's going to be a subject that everybody is going to have a different opinion on in regards to who gets guns, how many guns, what type of guns. All we know is that guns are being used to kill our kids. And that's a conversation that we have to have, is - what's the next step? What do we need to do?
CORNISH: Are people ready to have it?
BANKS: You know, I don't think it's a matter of if they're ready to have it or not. I think we need to have it. I mean, it's time. How many more of our kids need to be killed before we keep saying, well, the next time or keep putting it on hold and tabling that conversation? We have to have the conversation. We have to move forward. And we have to protect our kids. We can't sit there and talk about safety for our children is paramount and then we don't do anything about it. Every conversation has to be put on the table.
CORNISH: Chief Banks, you have a school-aged child. What do you talk to him or her about at home? What are you saying? How do you explain this?
BANKS: So one of the things I've talked to my son about is, first off, if he sees something that is out of the ordinary, he has to say something, whether it's to one of the teachers or administrators or to myself. You know, he can't look at it and say, well, I'll let somebody else do it.
CORNISH: And how old is your son?
BANKS: My son is 14 years old. He'll start high school next year. He's just finishing up his eighth-grade year.
CORNISH: But are you freaking out? I mean, as a police chief, are you worried about getting a phone call one day and it's just to your kid's school?
BANKS: You know, I don't freak out in the fact that I'm a police chief. I'm a parent first and foremost. And I think you - as a parent, you're always concerned for your children because you can't predict what another person is going to do. But if I have the conversation with my son and I teach him and train him to do what I feel is the right thing to do, then I feel more comfortable sending him to school. But I always say prayers prior to him leaving. And I'm very, very thankful and blessed when I know he's home safe.
CORNISH: Allen Banks is the police chief in Round Rock, Texas.
Thank you so much for speaking with ALL THINGS CONSIDERED.
BANKS: Thank you for having me. I appreciate it.
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