EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — Gov. Greg Abbott made his first public comments Thursday on the fundraising letter he sent out the day before the El Paso attack that killed 22 people.
In the letter, first reported by the Texas Signal and Texas Tribune, he talked aggressively about defending Texas, just before citing statistics of undocumented immigrants crossing the U.S-Mexico border.
Gov. Abbott says he met with the El Paso delegation for about an hour.
“Mistakes were made and course correction has been made,” he said in response to a reporter’s question about the letter. “I emphasized the importance of making sure that rhetoric will not be used in any dangerous way and we will make sure that we work collaboratively and in unification.”
Gov. Abbott was in El Paso for a special roundtable meeting Thursday. It’s the second meeting of the Texas Safety Commission.
The commission was formed as a direct result of the Aug. 3 mass shooting. The first portion of Thursday’s meeting focused on community healing. The group is made up of both local and state representatives. During his opening remarks, Gov. Abbott says he found the first commission meeting extremely productive and wants the commission to find strategies that can provide real relief and healing for victims. He also called the shooting “racist hate.”
“We must find ways to address racist hate, to reduce it, to create a sense of community where everybody understands who we are as a people,” Abbott said. “And understand it in this context — the killer in El Paso definitely was a racist and he was intent on acting out on his racism.”
El Paso-area lawmakers express hope that these conversations can help identify solutions.
“Understanding what we went through here in El Paso and taking those lessons and making the changes we can to make our community the best it can be, and also to be an example for the state,” said El Paso State Rep. Joe Moody.
Moody, who is a part of the group and was at the first meeting in Austin last week, says the last meeting covered a broad array of topics, including hatred, racism, gun violence, community healing as well as cybersecurity and the role the internet plays in advancing hateful ideologies.
However, this is not the first time Texas has had to have these types of discussions.
“This is similar to what was done after the shooting in Sutherland Springs and Santa Fe High School. I do think it’s certainly a sad state of affairs that this is somewhat of a blueprint on how to handle this. This has, unfortunately, become the new normal, ” Moody said.
According to Moody, he expects the governor will have a list of things to do following the meeting. However, he says the Texas Speaker of the House also has plans.
“At least I can say from the Texas House side that the Speaker of the House has told us that once these meetings conclude that he fully intends to task a select committee with looking at the long-range, long term solutions. That is legislative and not part of the executive authority of the Governor’s office,” Moody said.
Gun safety advocates protested outside the roundtable, upset that Moms Demand Action wasn’t invited to be a part of it. However, a spokesperson for Abbott’s office says Gabby Giffords’ group, which is a gun safety advocacy group will be in attendance. Giffords is a former congresswoman who was one of 19 shot while she was meeting with constituents in 2011.