Gun rights, reform groups to meet Texas governor after school shooting

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[May 23, 2018]    By Jon Herskovitz
 
 AUSTIN, Texas (Reuters) - Two groups at opposite ends of the gun debate were set to meet Texas Governor Greg Abbott on Wednesday to look for solutions days after a shooter killed 10 people in a Houston-area high school.

A makeshift memorial is left in memory of the victims killed in a shooting at the Santa Fe High School in Santa Fe, Texas, U.S., May 22, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Bachman

Abbott invited representatives from the Texas State Rifle Association, which says it protects the lawful use of firearms, and Texas Gun Sense, which says it wants reforms to protect the public, to join him in state capital Austin, according to various media outlets.

A group of experts are also expected to take part in the discussions, which will be second of three roundtables that the governor said would focus on mental health issues and the causes of gun violence.

Abbott - a Republican and staunch gun rights supporter - has said that any changes to state laws would "protect Second Amendment rights" - part of the U.S. Constitution that enshrines the right to bear arms.

Teenager Dimitrios Pagourtzis has been accused of killing eight students and two teachers during a rampage at Santa Fe High School on Friday - the fourth deadly school shooting in the United States this year.

At the first meeting on Tuesday, participants proposed expanding school safety training programs, bolstering threat assessment systems and expanding a pilot program designed to screen for students who might be a threat to themselves or others.

Abbot said he wanted those ideas enacted quickly.

Gun rights proponents say the Second Amendment prohibits regulations on gun ownership and that enforcement of existing laws should be sufficient to stop violent incidents like the one in Santa Fe.

Gun control groups point to the regular toll of shootings across the United States as evidence that more needs to be done to rein in the proliferation of weapons.

In contrast to Florida, where the killing of 17 teens and educators in February sparked a youth-led movement calling for new restrictions on gun ownership, the Texas tragedy saw elected officials and survivors alike voicing support for gun rights.

(Reporting by Jon Herskovitz; Editing by Andrew Heavens)

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