BY Alexa Ura
Days after a white gunman murdered 22 people in El Paso in a shooting fueled by racism, Gov. Greg Abbott on Wednesday said that he will hold another series of roundtable discussions to consider legislative proposals to address the tragedy.
The roundtables, which may start later this month, are meant to collect ideas to legislatively address the domestic terrorism El Paso experienced as well as ensuring guns do not end up in the hands of “deranged killers like the man who committed this heinous crime,” Abbott said.
The announcement came after the governor, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and House Speaker Dennis Bonnen met with El Paso’s legislative delegation, which for days has been reeling from a massacre at the hands of a gunman who reportedly targeted Hispanics.
“We need new and different strategies that go above and beyond what we did in the aftermath of dealing with shootings that took place at the school in Santa Fe,” Abbott said, referencing the 2018 shooting at a high school that killed eight students and two teachers. After that 2018 shooting, Abbott similarly called for roundtables.
The meeting with Abbott came five days after a 21-year-old from Allen drove 10 hours to a Walmart in El Paso and opened fire, killing 20 people on site and injuring dozens of others in a massacre federal law enforcement officials have deemed an act of domestic terrorism. Two of the injured died in El Paso hospitals on Monday. The meeting was set up at the request of El Paso lawmakers who spent recent days pushing back on remarks made by state leaders in which the leaders largely blamed the attack on mental illness or video games, even as word of a racist manifesto possibly written by the gunman began to spread.
Officials have since said they’re investigating a manifesto rooted in white supremacy ideology that described the attack as a “response to the Hispanic invasion of Texas.”
“In this case, we’re dealing with domestic terrorism. We’re dealing with a white supremacist. We’re dealing with racism,” Abbott said on Wednesday. “We’re dealing with broad-based challenges that need to be tackled.”
Members of the El Paso delegation went into the meeting hoping to secure state funding for crime victims assistance and the local mental health authority to support the victims and their families as well as to call for legislative action to combat white supremacy and gun violence.