Texas mulls school safety days after mass shooting

Santa Fe, Texas, USAUpdated: May 22, 2018, 06:37 PM IST
main img
A mourner prays at a makeshift memorial left in memory of the victims killed in a shooting at Santa Fe High School in Santa Fe, Texas, US. Photograph:(Reuters)

Texas Governor Greg Abbott is set to begin a three-day series of discussions with educators and law enforcement officials on improving school safety on Tuesday, days after a teenager killed 10 people at a Houston-area high school.

Abbott will meet with two dozen people, including supporters and opponents of arming teachers, following the fourth-deadliest US school shooting this year at Santa Fe High School in Santa Fe, Texas on Friday.

"I am seeking the best solutions to make our schools more secure and to keep our communities safe," he said in a statement. "I look forward to hearing from all sides of the debate, and from expert perspectives on these issues."

Abbott, a Republican, has vowed that any changes to state laws would "protect Second Amendment rights."

The Second Amendment of the US Constitution enshrines the right to bear arms. Gun rights proponents say it prohibits regulations on gun ownership and that enforcement of existing laws should be sufficient to stop violent incidents like the one in Santa Fe.

Gun control groups point to the regular toll of shootings across the United States as evidence that more needs to be done to rein in the proliferation of weapons.

The US Supreme Court has avoided major gun cases for a number of years, leaving in place restrictions on guns enacted by some states.

In contrast to Florida, where the killing of 17 teens and educators in February sparked a youth-led movement calling for new restrictions on gun ownership, the Texas tragedy saw elected officials and survivors alike voicing support for gun rights.

Some gun rights proponents in Texas have embraced the idea of arming teachers, a strategy advocated by the National Rifle Association and US President Donald Trump. That solution is largely rejected by survivors and parents in Parkland, Florida, after the carnage there.

Police arrested Dimitrios Pagourtzis, 17, at the Santa Fe school following the rampage they said he committed with a shotgun and .38-caliber pistol. He is charged with capital murder of 10 people - eight students and two teachers.

Police said Pagourtzis confessed to Friday's killings after he was taken into custody, but they have offered no motive yet for the massacre.

He is being held without bond, on suicide watch, at the Galveston County Jail in nearby Galveston, Sheriff Henry Trochesset said.

Pagourtzis' family said in a statement it was "saddened and dismayed" by the shooting.