Uvalde school shooting: Special Texas Senate committee to hold first public hearing Tuesday

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick formed the Special Committee to Protect All Texans at the request of Gov. Greg Abbott.

AUSTIN, Texas — Texas lawmakers want to stop another mass shooting like the one in Uvalde from ever happening again.

A special Senate committee will meet at the Texas Capitol on Tuesday. Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick formed the Special Committee to Protect All Texans at the request of Gov. Greg Abbott. Abbott wants the committee to address five issues: school safety, mental health, social media, police training and firearm safety.

Unlike the private House Investigative Committee hearings currently underway, Tuesday’s Senate testimony is expected to be public.

Earlier in June, Abbott requested special legislative committees meet in response to the shooting at Uvalde’s Robb Elementary School, where 19 students and two teachers were killed by an 18-year-old gunman.

State Sen. Robert Nichols (R-Jacksonville), chair of the Special Committee to Protect All Texans, has said the people of Uvalde deserve transparency. 

But Democratic state lawmakers are still calling on their colleagues across the aisle to do more to address gun violence. Members of the Senate Democratic Caucus renewed their calls for a special session on Monday, saying the next school year starts in 56 days and lawmakers cannot wait that long to address gun violence.

“After all these recent mass shootings, the Legislature convenes in the regular session and makes it easier to obtain and carry weapons while still failing to adequately fund mental health care. Texas is dead last in the country for access to help, to mental health care,” Sen. Carol Alvarado (D-Houston) said. “We are 56 days away from the school year starting. We must take action to ensure that another group of parents are not planning funerals instead of planning summer vacations or summer camp.”

The formed committees are different from a special legislative session – which Democrats and at least a few Republicans have asked for since the Uvalde shooting.

Critics of the governor have argued that the time for committees has passed, pointing out that the Legislature also formed special committees after mass shootings in 2019 and those discussions did not prevent the Uvalde school shooting from happening.

The Texas Senate’s Special Committee to Protect All Texans will have its first meeting at 9 a.m. Tuesday and it will be open to the public. Meanwhile, the House Investigative Committee will also have another private meeting. That committee has been meeting since the beginning of the month, investigating law enforcement’s response to the Uvalde shooting.

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