School shootings have never been more prevalent than in the last few years. And, usually, the response from schools and governments is to create stricter gun control laws. This can often be seen as infringing on the Second Amendment, and restricts Americans’ rights even further.
That’s why it’s so surprising that Greg Abbott, the Republican Governor of Texas, is proposing a different strategy.
Abbott has been attending roundtable discussions for three days following the Santa Fe school shooting. The goal of these meetings is to discuss how to prevent more school shootings from happening, and how to keep students safe in school.
Their resulting 44-page plan now has a strong emphasis on school security, as well as mental health treatment for students. However, the real surprise is that the plan seems surprisingly lax on gun control initiatives.
As Governor Abbott states, the plan is a “starting point, not an ending place.” Abbot also said that schools in Texas can begin implementing the plan’s strategies without waiting for legislative approval. Abbot is confident these measures can be in place by the start of the upcoming school year.
Although many strategies in the plan don’t need approval from legislation, others will need the legislature’s cooperation.
The plan includes 40 suggestions for improving student safety while in school. And one of the biggest points of concern is the need for an increase in school security.
Some of the plan’s suggestions for security revolve around securing more local law enforcement on the premises. Other suggestions request that teachers arm themselves at school to protect the students’ safety.
The plan also contains suggestions for making the structure of the school buildings more secure. The plan suggestions making the building more difficult for intruders to enter. In addition, the plan proposes the idea of installing active shooter alarms, which will notify all in the building that there is a shooter present in the school.
In regards to mental health treatment, the plan proposes that staff can have training to identify warning signs. This way, school staff can help prevent threats before they occur.
The Governor backs all these initiatives. However, he feels investing time, energy and finances into the mental health component of the plan is the most necessary step. This includes ensuring counselors have proper training and resources for crisis interventions.
According to Abbott, as long as mental health challenges exist, there will need to be safety measures to protect students. However, Abbott suggests that if the U.S. can address its mental health challenges, it can do wonders for our school’s safety.
Abbott also claims that, although he has an outstanding pro-gun record, he “will always promote responsible gun ownership.”
Abbott is exploring “red flag laws” – laws that allow a person’s firearms to be taken if they are deemed “suspicious.” His goal seems to be evaluating how effective these laws are, and implementing them if they will help promote student safety.