AUSTIN – Texas House Speaker Joe Straus on Wednesday instructed a House committee to study a potential "red flag" law that would spell out a legal process for family members and law enforcement wanting to keep firearms out of the hands of those who would harm themselves or others. The interim charge was the first that Speaker Straus plans to issue in order to prevent future school shootings and improve the safety of campuses across Texas.
Speaker Straus issued the charge at the request of Governor Greg Abbott, who on Wednesday unveiled his plan to improve school and firearm safety in Texas. Governor Abbott released his plan following several days of roundtable discussions with educators, students, law enforcement, behavioral health professionals and other experts. Speaker Straus and other Members of the Texas House participated in those sessions.
"I want to thank Governor Abbott for presenting a plan that begins to address many of the concerns and ideas raised during last week's roundtable discussions," Speaker Straus said. "It's critically important that students and parents know when they return to school in August that schools are significantly safer and less vulnerable to a shooting tragedy, and today the state has taken the first steps toward giving them that assurance. However, there is much more work to be done before schools reconvene. The House will work closely this summer with educators, state agencies, parents and law enforcement to make sure that immediate steps are taken to prevent another shooting. Further action will be required when the Legislature meets again, and I want to make sure that the Texas House is ready to act on issues related to campus security, gun safety and behavioral health."
In response to Governor Abbott's request, Speaker Straus issued the following charge Wednesday to the Texas House Committee on Criminal Jurisprudence: "Review the applicable portions of the state's penal laws and make legislative recommendations regarding whether existing protective order laws are sufficient or could be amended to include 'red flag' or mental health protective orders or whether 'red flag' or mental health protective orders should be independently created to allow law enforcement, a family member, a school employee, or a district attorney to file a petition seeking removal of firearms from a potentially dangerous person and providing for mental health treatment for the potentially dangerous person, while preserving the fundamental rights of the Second Amendment and ensuring due process."
"In the coming days, I will issue other interim charges designed to help prevent another school shooting," Speaker Straus said. "I also hope that Members of the House will present their own ideas for immediate action and for study before the Legislature meets again. This issue is a priority for the Texas House, and it will remain a priority well into the future."