TYLER, and LUBBOCK, Texas — On Thursday night, Governor Greg Abbott pointed to Lubbock as evidence that an already existing red flag law can help prevent mass shootings. Abbott made reference specifically to the case of William Patrick Williams.
Williams, 19, was indicted hours before by a federal grand jury in Lubbock. He was booked into the Lubbock County Detention Center on August 1 and charged with making a false statement to a licensed firearms dealer.
In July, Williams’ grandmother convinced him to go with her to Covenant Medical Center. He told her, according to a Lubbock Police report, he had an AK-47-style weapon and wanted to “shoot up” the hotel where he was staying.
Williams was then the subject of an “emergency detention” and kept in the care of Covenant Medical Center staff, according to a police report.
Police found the AK-47-style rifle and 17 magazines loaded with ammunition.
“You could call it a red flag law,” Abbott said. “It doesn’t deal with guns per-se. It deals with mental health.”
“If there’s a mental health issue, it raises a red flag, and law enforcement can work on getting a person to the health care they need,” Abbott said.
Abbott was speaking at a town hall in Tyler. The town hall was hosted by Nexstar Media Group and carried live on KLBK and EverythingLubbock.com.
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Abbott was asked many questions, including his thoughts on red flag laws that can prevent people from getting guns or maybe even allowing police to take guns from someone.
Abbott said a red flag law can sometimes work, but it can also sometimes not work.
“Something like this [a mental health red flag] proved very effective just last month when there was a person who wanted to commit a mass murder in Lubbock, Texas,” Abbott said. “And he had the armaments to do so.”
Abbott said the grandmother and the police were able to take action, and, “They were able to prevent a mass murder from taking place.”
“Would a red flag law worked to prevent the shooting in El Paso?” Abbott asked rhetorically. “The answer is no.”
“The shooter in El Paso had demonstrated no red flags at all,” Abbott explained. He said the El Paso shooter, who killed 22 on August 3 and wounded many others, did nothing that would have triggered a red flag warning.
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So, Abbott argued that any new red flag laws should only be passed if they actually work to prevent gun violence. He said much more discussion is needed before specific laws are proposed.