Texas Community Comes To Terms With Latest School Shooting
SCOTT SIMON, HOST:
A 17-year-old student is being held without bail in a Galveston County Jail. He's been charged with capital murder. Investigators say he walked into a class just after 7:30 Friday morning and shot and killed nine students and a teacher. Ten other people were wounded. Explosive devices were found at the school and in his vehicle.
The governor of Texas, Greg Abbott, vowed to take action. Yesterday in a press conference in Santa Fe, he said he's committed to making sure a tragedy like this never happens again.
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GREG ABBOTT: We need to do more than just pray for the victims and their families. It's time in Texas that we take action.
SIMON: NPR's John Burnett is in the community where the shooting took place and joins us. John, thanks for being with us. And what...
JOHN BURNETT, BYLINE: Hi, Scott
SIMON: What do you infer Governor Abbott means by taking actions - kind of an open-ended phrase?
BURNETT: Yeah. He says that when he gets back to Austin next week, he's going to convene a roundtable discussion with all the stakeholders, citizens, school administrators, local officials, state lawmakers and gun rights advocates. And the endgame is to draft legislation, which may include stronger background checks or strategies that he says to keep guns out of the hands of those that pose an immediate danger to others. That could be more school security guards and mental health programs.
But really, Scott, he was so emphatic last night. Remember, this is the second mass shooting in Texas since November, when 27 people were mowed down at the Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs. And the governor was there just six months ago, grieving with the locals. And so he says, you know, this has to stop. This cannot happen anymore in Texas.
But remember, he is a zealous Second Amendment supporter. He once expressed his annoyance that Californians were buying more guns than Texans, and Texans need to catch up.
SIMON: Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick attracted some attention for his strong words after Friday's shooting. Just listen to what he proposed.
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DAN PATRICK: What can we do now? One, if you're a parent and you own guns, lock your guns safely away. Your children should not be able, or anyone else, to get your legally owned guns.
SIMON: And he had another observation, too, didn't he?
BURNETT: Right. I mean, he said perhaps schools need to be structured differently. There are 8,000 campuses in Texas. He said there may be too many exits and entrances in the schools. He certainly said the officials - he said that they have to harden the schools - continue lockdown drills and evacuation drills and maybe more police officers. But the answers of more metal detectors at Texas high schools, that's an extreme measure
SIMON: And we should add fire officials pointed out you want more than one exit. Obviously...
BURNETT: Exactly. The kids have to get out if there's a real fire.
SIMON: Yeah. So no talk about restrictions on guns, as we heard following the shootings in Parkland, Fla.?
BURNETT: Right. There's none of that now. Really, it's just - the shooting is less than 24 hours old. Everyone is in total shock. You could see it in the faces of the people at the vigil last night. They're dealing with the loss of 10 beloved members of their community. And they're not yet ready to talk about preventive measures. But that will come, and I think the governor said he wants to kickstart that conversation in Austin next week with this roundtable.
SIMON: NPR's John Burnett near Santa Fe, Texas. Thanks so much for being with us.
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