ODESSA, Texas — Governor Greg Abbott demanded more action against mass shootings Sunday at a press conference one day after seven people were killed in the Midland-Odessa area.
"We know that words alone are inadequate," Gov. Abbott said during the press conference. "Words must be met with action."
Officials confirmed there were seven victims killed and 22 injured. Among the wounded was a 17-month-old girl, who is expected to recover.
"This is all of our worst nightmare," the child's mother said to Gov. Abbott in a text. "But, thank God she is alive and relatively well."
Officials also confirmed a Texas Department of Public Safety trooper injured in the shooting is expected to survive, as well.
Gov. Abbott told the press he is continuing to work to address mass shootings in Texas.
Since 2014, there have been nine major shooting events where at least five victims were killed. In those shootings, 102 people were killed, including the seven from Saturday's incident:
- July 9, 2014: Spring, Harris County - 6 Killed
- May 17, 2015: Waco, McLennan County - 9 Killed
- Aug. 8, 2015: Harris County - 8 Killed
- July 7, 2016: Dallas, Dallas County - 6 Killed
- Sept. 10, 2017: Plano, Collin County - 8 Killed
- Nov. 5, 2017: Sutherland Springs, Wilson County - 26 Killed
- May 18, 2018: Santa Fe, Galveston County - 10 Killed
- Aug. 3, 2019: El Paso, El Paso County - 22 Killed
- Aug. 31, 2019: Odessa-Midland, Ector County - 7 Killed
"I have been to too many of these events," Gov. Abbott said. "I am heartbroken by the crying of the people of the State of Texas."
Since the Santa Fe shooting in 2018, Gov. Abbott says he has signed more 15 laws for safety. The most recent went into effect Sunday.
The law loosened a number of gun regulations by:
- Allowing legal gun owners to carry a weapon in public when a state of natural disaster is declared.
- Allowing licensed handgun owners to bring weapons to places of worship unless given written or oral notice that guns are not allowed on the property
- Prohibiting landlords from banning renters from having guns
- Prohibiting school districts from banning guns that are stored in a locked vehicle
In addition to the laws he has signed, Gov. Abbott listed 31 recommendations to increase school safety in the aftermath of the Santa Fe school shooting.
However, after two mass shootings in the span of a month, reporters pressed Gov. Abbott on what else is being done to prevent more mass shooting events in Texas. Gov. Abbott says since the El Paso shooting on August 3, there have been numerous discussions as to further actions to prevent future shootings. He says there is an urgent need to take swift action.
"We have been working on drafting solutions that can be taken by legislators as well as solutions that can be taken by the governor and the executive branch in Texas," Gov. Abbott said. "Now, in the aftermath of this shooting and the unique aspects of this shooting, we must broaden our efforts to address the tragedy that has befallen Odessa. We must do so quickly."
Gov. Abbott did not specify what solutions have been addressed since the El Paso shooting, though he did say part of it was targeting the racist nature behind the attack
Concerning the Midland-Odessa area shooting, as well as the other mass shootings in Texas, Gov. Abbott says he wants to ensure guns are kept out of the hands of criminals, while also upholding Second Amendment rights for Texans.
During the press conference, authorities revealed the firearm used in the attack was an "AR-type" weapon. Shortly after, a reported asked whether a plan to ban the AR-15 was under consideration.
"This is the kind of thing legislators are already talking about," Gov. Abbott said. "This is one of the topics that was raised during our roundtable discussions we had in El Paso. However, I do want to point out, that some of the [mass shootings] have not involved ARs."
Gov. Abbott specifically mentioned the Santa Fe shooting, which involved a shotgun and a handgun, and the Luby's shooting, which only involved a handgun.
While he did not advocate for a ban on any weapon, Gov. Abbott made it clear he wanted to involve Texans, particularly those affected by mass shootings, in coming up with future plans to prevent such tragedies.
"We've been meeting daily, in part with members of the legislature, in part with victims, in part with members of the community, in part with our federal counterparts, and we've been hammering out on a daily basis new, additional solutions that we will be working to offer up," Gov. Abbott said.
In the meantime, Gov. Abbott urged Texans to unite in the face of tragedy.
"In the aftermath of what we have seen here in Odessa, we must replicate what we have seen in El Paso, Sutherland Springs, Santa Fe and in Dallas," Gov. Abbott said. "That is we must do what Texans do best. In times of tragedy we unite. We come together. We support each other. We reinvigorate our community with that love that we have for one another. Knowing the Permian Basin the way that I do, that's exactly what's going to happen here in Odessa, in Midland and the entire region."