Texas’ top leaders have announced their first action after the El Paso mass shooting. Gov. Greg Abbott announced a new domestic terrorism task force on Wednesday.
Bob Garrett is Austin bureau chief for The Dallas Morning News, and says the task force includes the Abbott, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, House Speaker Dennis Bonnen, Attorney General Ken Paxton and representatives of local, state and federal law enforcement. He says combating white supremacism and other homegrown extremism is different than going after international terrorists.
“I think there’s been a lot written lately about how much easier it is for our law enforcement and intelligence agencies to go after someone abroad than at home,” Garrett says. “They can start tying up money, they can get these eavesdropping and surveillance orders approved more easily. There are more protections for Americans.”
Garrett says Abbott has charged the new task force with making legislation recommendations, including that which could make it easier for law enforcement to act against suspected domestic terrorists.
The alleged gunman is believed to have held racist views toward Hispanic Americans and Mexicans, and Garrett says Abbott wants Texans to “tamp down racial rhetoric.” He also favors a crackdown on online services like 8chan, where a manifesto believed to have been written by the El Paso shooter, was posted, and where racist rhetoric is common.
“He talked about how to bring in some of the traditional tech giants and social media platforms and internet providers to talk about how to do a better job of regulating the sort of hate speech on the web,” Garrett says.
But progressive groups question Abbott’s commitment to change. Some on that side say gun control should be a part of the response to mass shootings.
Written by Shelly Brisbin.