One year after Santa Fe school shooting, what has Texas done to prevent such horror again?

by | May 15, 2019 | Policy, Texas Legislature

Spoiler: Zero on the gun safety side of things.

On May 18, 2018, a 17-year-old high school student opened fire and killed 10 of his classmates and teachers in Santa Fe, Texas, outside of Houston.

The tragic event became the deadliest school shooting in state history since the University of Texas tower shooting in 1966.

One year later, and in the wake of the biggest – and most delicious – scandal to rock the National Rifle Association, it’s clear Republican lawmakers have skirted around the issue of gun reform in favor of an approach that focuses on school safety.

Gov. Greg Abbott’s recommendations suggested inconsequential changes to gun laws; most of the solutions have dealt with increasing school security. Some of those proposals finally became law with Senate Bill 11, the Texas Legislature’s sweeping school safety bill that strengthened mental health initiatives, made schools and teachers adopt emergency shoot shooter plans, and required districts to address behavioral threats, among other things.

Norri Leder, a volunteer with the Texas chapter of Moms Demand Action told the Texas Signal that she would grade the state’s effort to prevent another mass shooting a “D.”

“I wouldn’t give them an F because Senate Bill 11 is constructive, but I wouldn’t give them an A, B or C because they’ve been so cowed by the Texas State Rifle Association and a small group of very loud people,” Leder said.

Still, Leder said there were some major wins that shouldn’t be overlooked. She said gun-related bills that she never thought would see the light of day were advanced much further than in any other session.

As far as comprehensive gun reform goes, it didn’t make the cut this year.

“The politics of getting it passed is so challenging,” University of Houston political scientist Brandon Rottinghaus said. “The odds are long for getting that type of reform through a Republican legislature and Republican governor.”

Leder thinks more policymakers see the writing on the wall.

“I don’t want people to feel that there’s no hope,” Leder said. “I feel more hopeful than I ever have, but there’s still a long way to go.”

Steve Perkins lost his wife, Glenda Ann, on that terrible day. He recently told Houston Public Media, “She was just erased. You know, one day she’s there and she’s just gone the next day and there was no purpose in that,” Perkins said. “I mean accidents happen. You know, illness happens. But for somebody to come just take her life and remove her from me completely? I don’t understand that.”

fernando@texassignal.com | + posts

Fernando covers Texas politics and government at the Texas Signal. Before joining the Signal, Fernando spent two years at the Houston Chronicle and previously interned at Houston’s NPR station News 88.7. He is a graduate of the University of Houston, Jack J. Valenti School of Communication, and enjoys reading, highlighting things, and arguing on social media. You can follow him on Twitter at @fernramirez93 or email at fernando@texassignal.com

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