Texas Gov. Abbott calls for addressing mental health issues in wake of Texas mass shooting

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Texas Gov. Greg Abbott emphasized the importance of addressing increasing “anger and violence” in the wake of a mass shooting Saturday in Allen, Texas, that left at least eight dead and seven injured.

“What Texas is doing in a big-time way, we are working to address that anger and violence but going to its root cause, which is addressing the mental health problems behind it,” Abbott said during an interview on “Fox News Sunday.”

The Republican governor also called for increasing penalties for stricter laws “to get guns out of the hands of dangerous criminals and to increase penalties for criminals who possess guns.”

But notably absent from Abbott’s call for legislation that would prevent gun violence in his state were demands for stricter gun control laws. The shooting Saturday at Allen Premium Outlets was the second recent mass shooting in the state, after a gunman shot and killed five people at a house in Cleveland, Texas, on April 28.

“People want a quick solution. The long-term solution here is to address the mental health issue,” Abbott said, noting that there have been mass shootings in states with varying levels of gun control.

Critics of the idea of treating gun violence largely as a public health issue have noted that the nation doesn't have enough mental health professionals, mental health facilities or funding for either mass screening or treatment. Abbott said his state had added "almost $25 billion to address mental health" in recent years and will look to add more for Texas' rural communities and for schoolchildren.

Meanwhile Sunday, Democratic State Sen. Roland Gutierrez slammed Abbott and other state leaders for their response to the shooting, particularly for the time it is taking for information about the shooting to be made public. Official information on the Allen shooting was still scarce Sunday morning.

“We are in a situation in this state where we’re — as if you’re living in communist Russia. The governor, the lieutenant governor, and people like them and their law enforcement agencies refuse to tell us the truth as to what’s going on here,” Gutierrez, who represents Uvalde, Texas, the site of a school shooting last year, said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

“It’s just a sad state of affairs that we’re living in. This is not the Texas miracle that Greg Abbott likes to call it,” he added.