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On Our Minds is the name of KERA's mental health news initiative. The station began focusing on the issue in 2013, after the mass shooting in Newtown, Connecticut. Coverage is funded in part by the Donna Wilhelm Family Fund and Cigna.

Abbott Calls For More Mental Health Programs In Schools After Santa Fe Shooting

Gov. Greg Abbott is hosting a series of roundtable discussions this week to look into ways to stop gun violence at schools.
Gabriel C. Pérez
Gov. Greg Abbott is hosting a series of roundtable discussions this week to look into ways to stop gun violence at schools.

The main focus of a roundtable discussion at the Capitol on Wednesday was finding ways for schools to identify violent students before they commit mass murder.

“They include mental health screening programs to identify students who may pose a threat to themselves or to others,” Gov. Greg Abbott said after the closed-door meeting. “They include expanding mental health first aid program to educate teachers when to recognize and deal with problems. They include trauma and grief program.”

Wednesday's discussion was the second of three roundtables Abbott planned following the deadly shooting at Santa Fe High School last week. The first discussion focused on "school and community safety," while this one was about early intervention and mental health services in schools.

Abbott said he would like the Legislature to consider funding for these types of programs during its next session. The group also discussed ways to monitor student social media, while respecting privacy. One suggestion was to create an app that allowed students to report classmates they find suspicious.

The group also discussed gun regulations, and Abbott said there was some consensus.

“One [thing] I think everybody agrees upon is the necessity of safe storage of guns and strategies to promote the safe storage of guns,” he said.

Alice Tripp, legislative director for the Texas State Rifle Association, an affiliate of the NRA, said the participants in the room didn't agree on everything. She said before previous mass shootings there were “balls dropped” in terms of recognizing a shooter as a threat, but gun regulations won’t fix that.

“So to assign blame to a firearm or a part of a firearm is to lose the whole concept of the human that was involved,” she said.

The final roundtable discussion will be held Thursday. Victims from the school shootings in Santa Fe and Alpine, and the massacre at a church last year in Sutherland Springs will be in attendance. 

Do you have a question about guns, gun violence or school shootings in Texas? Ask it in the form below._

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