Gov. Greg Abbott on Wednesday offered several immediate and long-term strategies to improve school safety in Texas.
Abbott unveiled the 40-plus-page School and Firearm Safety Action Plan at a news conference at Dallas Independent School District headquarters. The plan includes actions that schools can start implementing this summer and others for lawmakers to consider the next time they convene, whether that's in a special session or next year.
The strategies largely fall into having more security at schools, preventing threats in advance and strengthening firearms safety.
The plan calls for several strategies that campuses can incorporate, including increasing law enforcement presence and the number of school marshals; providing active shooter and emergency response training; offering telemedicine and mental health evaluations to identify students at risk of harming others and removing them from classrooms; and hardening campus facilities -- or making them more secure.
Abbott says there's $120 million in funding available now for schools to start implementing strategies.
Abbott's also asking state legislators to prioritize a bigger investment in mental health and encouraging them to consider creating a "red flag" law to identify people who are a danger to themselves or others and have access to or own firearms. Abbott also wants to update the Texas gun storage law to include 17-year-olds.
Read the governor's safety plan
Last week — just days after the shooting at Santa Fe High School that killed 10 and injured 13 — Abbott held meetings in Austin with a variety of people to help come up with a plan. Included in the talks were officials from school districts, gun rights advocates, gun control groups and survivors of shootings.
“No one provided a more powerful voice for those strategies than the victims themselves,” Abbott said.
The Republican governor has been a staunch supporter of gun rights. While he says he'll never infringe on Second Amendment rights, he'll promote responsible gun ownership.
“I doubt there’s been a Texas governor with a more pro-gun record than myself,” Abbott said.
Abbott says many of his proposals are not mandates or laws, but that schools want to enact them.
“This plan is a starting point, not an ending place," he said.
Abbott says he's still open to calling a special session if necessary. Otherwise, lawmakers would meet for the 86th regular session next January.
Watch the news conference via the Dallas ISD Facebook page
Statement from Democrat Lupe Valdez
Former Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez, who's running against Abbott for governor this fall, issued this statement about the plan.
"I commend the participants of the roundtables for working to try to improve our school safety, but it is clear that under this leadership we won't see nearly enough of the changes we need. Despite the effort, this move by the Governor falls woefully short and includes ideas that will only make matters worse. While some of these actions like increased mental health counseling are essential and should have been enacted years ago, it is astounding how few of Governor Abbott's proposals directly address gun violence and how he ignored some of the most critical steps we must take. With this insufficient plan, Governor Abbott has proven yet again why parents, teachers, and students can't trust him.
"Our children deserve more than Governor Abbott's willful neglect and Lt. Gov. Patrick blaming women’s health, video games, and too many doors for these preventable tragedies. Governor Abbott's proposals accept gun violence in our schools and communities as inevitable and unavoidable, we must demand more. It’s time to act, and in the coming days I will lay out common sense steps to address the crisis head-on."
This post has been updated.