EL PASO, Texas (Border Report) – A Democratic congresswoman is calling on her colleagues to look at Texas’ gun laws after a report by the Texas House committee investigating the law enforcement response to the May 24 mass shooting in Uvalde was released Sunday. The report was meant to gather facts, show initial findings and “equip lawmakers to guide them in deciding next steps,” said the Hon. Eva Guzman, who was part of the committee.
“It’s so important that these reports look at what happened on the ground that day, but we also have to look at the context,” U.S. Rep. Veronica Escobar, D-Texas, said Monday on MSNBC. “In Texas, the environment that has been created by Republicans, who want to create a Wild West sort of environment, has led us to be one of the deadliest states for mass shootings.”
The 77-page report bared systemic failures, “egregiously poor decision making” and shortcomings in preparedness on the part of law enforcement responding to the Robb Elementary School shooting that left 19 students and two teachers dead at the hands of an 18-year-old gunman.
The report mostly dealt with the police response, but Escobar said the lawmakers need to dig deeper. The shooter reportedly had suffered bullying and experienced family separation a few years earlier, and was known as the “school shooter” in video game circles.
“The report is important, but the leadership void goes beyond law enforcement,” Escobar said. “The report stops short of taking it further up the chain.”
The congresswoman takes exception to Texas legislators having passed open carry gun laws and to Abbott spending billions of dollars in Operation Lone Star, whose stated goal is to protect communities from criminals engaged in illegal drug and migrant smuggling. That money should have been used for mental health services or underfunded school districts such as the ones in Uvalde and in El Paso, where an allegedly racially-motivated gunman killed 23 people at a Walmart on Aug. 3, 2019.
“Abbott is very given to point the finger at others in any given situation, but as the highest ranking official in Texas, I have yet to hear him accept responsibility or bring forward any ideas for meaningful change,” Escobar said. “He is literally someone who has only used his position to make Texas less safe.”
Border Report requested comment from the Abbott press office, and received the following:
“This is a completely inaccurate, unsubstantiated narrative being spun by those trying to politicize a tragedy. Governor Abbott did not, in no uncertain terms, cut funding from mental health services being provided for Texans. The Governor is working with legislative leaders to build upon the $25 billion that has already been appropriated to address mental and behavioral health issues and to expand access to mental health services. This includes funding for schools to have behavioral threat assessment teams to identify students who could be threats and have them referred to mental health professionals or to police and funding for a mental health care consortium for children and teens. Governor Abbott and legislative leadership have already begun to provide additional funding, transferring $105.5 million to support additional school safety and mental health initiatives.
The Governor has been clear since day one that he expects all information surrounding the tragedy at Robb School Elementary to be released, and we do appreciate that the Uvalde community is getting answers. The investigations being conducted by the Texas Senate, Texas Rangers, and the FBI are ongoing, and we look forward to the full results being shared with the victims’ families and the public, who deserve the full truth of what happened that tragic day.”Governor Greg Abbott
The governor released a statement on the House report thanking the legislators for their thoroughness. He said the findings “are beyond disturbing and raise serious concerns about the response that day. There are critical changes needed as a result of the Texas House’s findings.”
Abbott said he would work with the legislature to develop changes for improvements to public safety, school safety and mental health assessment and treatment.