LIVE: Texas Safety Commission formed after El Paso shooting meets today for first time

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FILE – In this Aug. 6, 2019 file photo, Antonio Basco cries beside a cross at a makeshift memorial near the scene of a mass shooting at a shopping complex, in El Paso, Texas. Basco, whose 63-year-old wife was among the Texas mass shooting victims says he has no other family and welcomes anyone wanting to attend her services in El Paso. Margie Reckard was among 22 people fatally shot on Aug. 3 at a the Walmart. Reckard and Basco were married 22 years. (AP Photo/John Locher, File)

AUSTIN (Nexstar) — Gov. Greg Abbott’s Texas Safety Commission will hold its first meeting at the Texas State Capitol Thursday morning.

“The Texas Safety Commission will bring together experts and community leaders to develop an action plan to combat threats of domestic terrorism, root out extremist ideologies, and address the link between mental health challenges and gun violence in our communities,” Abbott said in a released statement earlier this week. “By working together, we will ensure a safe and secure future for all Texans.”

Gov. Abbott, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and Texas Speaker of the House Dennis Bonnen will join gun safety and mental health experts at the meeting, as well as lawmakers from the El Paso area: State Sen. Jose Rodriguez, State Rep. Mary Gonzalez, State Rep. Cesar Blanco, State Rep. Joe Moody, State Rep. Lina Ortega and State Rep. Art Fierro. 

“When this tragedy happened, we just amplified that culture and that spirit that we’ve always had,” Rep. Gonzalez, D-Clint, said. “The community has gone through a lot and it’s a different reality to wake up the day after a gunman targeted Latino people, but we have definitely risen.”

Rep. Gonzalez hopes members of the commission can share ideas on how to tackle racism and hate speech. Authorities were investigating a manifesto posted online before the deadly attack that they believe was written by the suspect. State and federal lawmakers denounced the racist language in the manifesto.

“We’ve seen during parts of our state history and our country’s history that we have tackled issues of racism and sexism through policy and we institutionalize change, so I’m not giving up,” Gonzalez said.

Clint ISD Superintendent Dr. Juan Martinez, Maj. Manuel Espinosa from the Texas DPS Criminal Investigation Division and Maj. David Cabrera from the Texas DPS Intelligence and Counterterrorism Division will also attend the meeting. Other participants include Tory Mayo, the lead pastor of The Well Austin church; Karie Gibson, a supervisory special agent with the FBI; and representatives from Facebook, Google and Twitter.

Texas Gun Sense and the Texas State Rifle Association will also have representatives at the meeting. 

The second meeting will be in El Paso on Thursday, Aug. 29.

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