HOUSTON — Gov. Greg Abbott's focus continues to be on the devastating event that happened in Uvalde, Texas, but that didn't stop him from giving commentary Friday at the NRA convention in Houston.
The governor did not attend the convention as planned but spoke in a pre-recorded message centered around the victims of the Uvalde mass shooting.
He made it clear no existing or new law could have prevented the gunman from going inside the elementary school and killing 19 students and two teachers.
Abbott’s stance on gun laws has been relaxed during his time in office. Last year, he signed legislation allowing Texans to carry handguns without a permit.
On Wednesday, he re-stated his long-held position that the problem is not the guns, it’s the shooters.
“Anybody who shoots somebody else has a mental health challenge. Period," Abbott said earlier this week. "We as a government need to find a way to target that mental health challenge and do something about it.”
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Abbott said leaders in Uvalde told him their biggest issue is a lack of mental health resources.
"They said, 'We have a problem with mental health illness in this community ... and the need for more mental health support in this region,'" Abbott said.
After the Santa Fe High School shooting, the Texas legislature passed laws that provided funding for upgrades to campus security and created a standard for campus safety.
Abbott said legislators will now be looking for ways to improve what was already done in 2019. The bottom line is the governor is not in favor of new gun restrictions.
"There are more people that are shot every weekend in Chicago than there are in school shootings in Texas," Abbott said. "And we need to realize that, people who think that, 'Well, maybe if we implement tougher gun laws, it’s going to solve it,' Chicago, L.A. and New York disprove that thesis.”
Full message from Gov. Abbott below:
This is Governor Greg Abbott.
And when I say welcome to Texas to everybody here, I come before you this afternoon with a very heavy heart. America is grieving with an evil madman that took the innocent lives of schoolchildren this past Tuesday. Moments like this tear apart the very fabric of a community, a community that until Tuesday never thought that a tragedy like this could ever happen in such a quiet South Texas town like Uvalde.
This is the time of year that children look forward to the end of the school year and the promise of summer adventures. But 19 innocent children will never come home from that last week of school. Other children who survived are scarred by what they witnessed as Texans and as Americans. We grieve and mourn with these families the loss of their child is a tragedy that no parent should ever have to endure.
As parents, ourselves, Cecilia and I, our are heartbroken by such a senseless tragedy like this. We urge everyone here today, everyone across the country, to pray for those in your valley who are impacted by this atrocious act. The courageous actions of the many teachers and staff at Robb Elementary School should be applauded. These men and women are heroes for their fearless defense of the children in their charge The law teaches us that every child is a precious gift.
And Evil stole those gifts from their parents on Tuesday. And also remember this. There are thousands of laws on the books across the country that limit the owning or using of firearms. Laws that have not stopped madmen from carrying out evil acts on innocent people in peaceful communities. And you that today the gunman committed a felony under Texas law before he even pulled the trigger.
It's a felony to possess a firearm on school premises. But that did not stop him. And what he did on campus is capital murder. That's a crime that would have subjected him to the death penalty in Texas. Well, just as laws didn't stop the killer, we will not let his evil acts stop us from uniting the community that he tried to destroy.
I mean, Uvalde this afternoon working to heal the brokenhearted. We will bind up the wounds of the people of your valley and once again, restore the luster to a community known for its warmth, its friendship, and its values. May God bless the people of Uvalde. And may God forever bless the great state of Texas.