Texas school shooting survivors recount horror, demand more armed security and student mental health tracking
The survivors of the massacre at Santa Fe high school near Houston, Texas recounted their chilling experiences on the fateful day, when they had to dodge bullets and hide from the shooter after witnessing their classmates get shot, at a round table discussion with the state governor Greg Abbot on Thursday.
The students also pleaded with the governor to increase armed security at their schools in an attempt to keep their campus safe.
The discussion, which continued for three hours, marked the end of the three days of meetings the Texas governor held on school safety and mass shootings in the state.
Although Abbot appeared to accept the suggestions of increasing security and tracking student mental health, it would be unrealistic to expect him to push for major changes to restrict owning or buying of firearms in the state since Abbot is a staunch gun-rights supporter.
Reports state that the Republican organized closed-door meetings shortly after a mass shooting at Santa Fe high school claimed lives of 10 people, which included eight students and two substitute teachers. The governor said that he wanted to find "swift" and "meaningful" ways to curb future shootings.
Although Abbot did not elaborate on what measures he will recommend, he told survivors and their families on Thursday, "We are going to do more than just talk, we are going to act."
The governor, so far, has ignored the calls form some state lawmakers from both the sides who called for a special session to address gun laws. The lack of action on gun regulations is in sharp contrast to the response by Florida lawmakers after the Parkland school shooting, which left 17 people dead.
Florida politicians, three weeks after the massacre, were already in session and had passed a gun-control package after intense lobbying by the survivors of the school massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High school.
Lawmakers in Texas are reportedly not scheduled to meet until January 2019. Texas is a gun-friendly state and has over 1.2 million people licensed to carry handguns, according to reports.
Several students at Santa Fe High School, unlike the Florida student survivors, have been vocal opponents of stricter gun control legislation, including a few who were invited by the Texas governor for a meeting on Thursday.
Many families who met with the governor on Thursday said they did not want to talk about gun control laws or the politics revolving around gun rights.
Jay Horn, whose son was wounded in the shooting and was hospitalized, said: "This is not a gun thing. Evil's going to happen with anything," according to Daily Mail.
Several students present in the meeting called for more armed security guards and teachers on campus.
"Arming teachers, and not knowing who is armed, that is what we need," said Grace Johnson, a Santa Fe senior who hid in a band room attic during the attack. "I cannot tell you how much safer I feel in public with my father having a gun on him."