© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Flowers, toys, and other objects to remember the victims of the deadliest U.S. school shooting in nearly a decade resulting in the death of 19 children and two teachers, are seen at a memorial at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, U.S. M
By Brendan O’Brien
(Reuters) – Texas Governor Greg Abbott on Wednesday requested that state lawmakers convene committees to examine school safety, mental health and police training in the wake of last week’s school shooting that killed 19 children and two teachers.
Abbott in a joint letter asked fellow Republicans Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick and state House Speaker Dade Phelan to form special committees that would make recommendations to the state legislature and his office in the hopes of preventing a repetition of the school shooting in Uvalde, which is about 80 miles west of San Antonio.
“We as a state must reassess the twin issues of school safety and mass violence. As leaders, we must come together at this time to provide solutions to protect all Texans,” Abbott wrote, asking lawmakers to also exam social media and firearm safety.
Abbott, who is seeking re-election in November, has said that stringent gun laws do not prevent violence and that policymakers should instead focus on mental health treatment and prevention.
In response to Abbott’s letter, state Representative Chris Turner, a Democrat, posted on Twitter (NYSE:) a list of gun-control proposals that were made following the mass shooting in El Paso in 2019 that killed 23 people.
“Looking for solutions? Here are some proposed to you in 2019 following El Paso mass shooting,” he wrote. “We never heard back.”
Abbott’s request comes on the same day that a funeral was held for Irma Garcia, a Robb Elementary fourth-grade teacher who was killed in the shooting, and her husband Joe, who died of a heart attack two days after the massacre.
Details have emerged over the last week that show that Uvalde law enforcement agencies allowed the shooter to remain in a classroom for nearly an hour while officers waited in the hallway and children inside made panicked 911 calls for assistance.
The U.S. Justice Department on Sunday said it would review law enforcement’s response to the shooting, as anger grows over the police’s failure to swiftly confront the gunman. Texas state and county authorities say they are also conducting their own inquiry.
CNN on Wednesday spoke with Uvalde School District Police Chief Pete Arredono, who refused to answer questions on his immediate response to the shooting.
“We have been in contact with DPS every day, just so you know”, Arredono told CNN when asked about the Department of Public Safety having said he was not cooperating with them.