Texas Gov. Greg Abbott is asking, not ordering, the legislature to meet for a special session following last week’s mass shooting at an Uvalde, Texas elementary school.
Abbott is asking legislative committees to meet on five issues: school safety, mental health, social media, police training and firearm safety. Abbott is asking committees to develop recommendations that would prevent future school shootings.
While many Democrats have called on Texas officials to consider gun control legislation, Abbott and state leaders have said access to guns is not to blame for mass shootings like the one in Uvalde.
Although Abbott is not ordering a special session, he previously ordered three special sessions of the legislature. Abbott has ordered sessions to address voting laws, COVID-19 relief funding, bail reform, a ban on transgender participation in sports and abortion laws.
Abbott has frequently cited mental health for mass shootings, despite calls from mental health experts that say not all mass shootings are connected to mental health issues.
“Mental illness is not the problem. It is incorrect and harmful to link mental illness and gun violence, which is often the case following a mass shooting,” the National Alliance on Mental Illness said last week. “Pointing to mental illness doesn’t get us closer as a nation to solving the problem and doing so leads to discrimination and stigma against those with mental illness — who are more likely to be victims of violence than perpetrators. People across the globe live with mental illness, but only in the U.S. do we have an epidemic of senseless and tragic mass shootings.”
Texas ranks No. 44 for mental health prevalence and access to care measures, according to Mental Health America.
Abbott said late last week that he felt “misled” by officials who gave contrasting accounts to the police response to last week’s mass shooting. The U.S. Department of Justice has since announced a review of law enforcement's response to the shooting.
Texas officials said it took police more than an hour to engage the shooter.