By Gina Cherelus
(Reuters) – Texas Governor Greg Abbott unveiled a $110 million program intended to increase school safety by putting additional trained marshals inside schools and more closely monitoring social media for threats in the aftermath of a deadly school shooting earlier this month.
The plan was announced nearly two weeks after a 17-year-old armed with a shotgun and pistol killed 10 students and educators at Santa Fe High School in the Houston area.
It followed a shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, in February in which 17 people, mostly students, were massacred.
“Everybody in this entire process and everybody in the state of Texas never wants to see another occasion where innocent students are gunned down in their own schools,” Abbott told a news conference in Dallas on Wednesday.
The proposed funding works out to about $20 per student in a state that has about 5.5 million students enrolled in its public schools.
The 40-point plan, which followed meetings last week between Abbott and education and law enforcement officials, calls for enhanced mental health resources for students and new metal detectors for extra security at schools, Abbott said in a statement.
The Texas Democratic Party issued a statement condemning the governor’s plan, claiming that he failed to directly address gun crimes that occur in the United States.
“Nothing in Abbott’s plans address the reality that it is too easy for a weapon to end up in the hands of someone wanting to cause harm,” Texas Democratic Party chair Gilberto Hinojosa said in a statement.
Abbott is an ardent defender of the right to bear arms under the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Soon after the shooting at Santa Fe High School he said that any proposed legal changes that he would consider to improve school safety would “protect Second Amendment rights.”
His proposals include eliminating a rule that requires some school marshals to store their weapons in a safe while on campus.
Abbott said he would ask lawmakers to consider legislation to allow law enforcement, families, school staff or a district attorney to file a petition seeking the removal of firearms from a potentially dangerous person only after legal due process was provided.
(Reporting by Gina Cherelus; Editing by Scott Malone)