Texas Gov. Greg Abbott joined parishioners seeking solace at the first church services since the deadly school shooting at Santa Fe High School as the debate over how to stop such incidents intensified.
Two Obama administration figures, former Education Secretary Arne Duncan and assistant secretary Peter Cunningham, called for a nationwide school boycott to push for tougher gun control legislation, while others cautioned against blaming firearms.
Among them was 18-year-old Santa Fe senior Monica Bracknell, a shooting survivor who hugged Mr. Abbott outside the Arcadia First Baptist Church and urged him not to use the tragedy as fodder in the gun control fight.
“People are making this into a political issue,” she told The Associated Press. “This is not a political issue. It’s not a gun-law issue.”
Oliver North, incoming president of the National Rifle Association, said the shootings are the product of a “culture of violence,” not the Second Amendment.
“The problem that we’ve got is we’re trying like the dickens to treat the symptom without treating the disease,” Mr. North said on “Fox News Sunday.” “The disease in this case isn’t the Second Amendment. The disease is youngsters who are steeped in a culture of violence.”
Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick says one way to reduce school shootings is to retrofit school buildings to reduce the number of entrances, as well as arm teachers and train them how to respond to active-shooter situations.
“We need our teachers to be armed,” Mr. Patrick said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “When you’re facing someone who’s an active shooter, the best way to take that shooter down is with a gun, but even better than that is four or five guns to one.”
Ten students were killed and 13 were injured Friday when the shooter opened fire at Santa Fe High School in Texas. Suspect Dimitrios Pagourtzis, 17, was charged with capital murder and aggravated assault.
Mr. Patrick praised “heroic” first responders, but also said having armed teachers may have saved lives.
“There was a teacher next door, a Marine, who saw what was going on, slammed the door, locked his door, protected his students,” he said. “Some feel had he been able to carry a gun, he would have been able to stop that shooter, had it been his choice.”
Texas currently leaves whether teachers can carry up to local control.
“You have the necessary exits for fire, of course,” Mr. Patrick said, “but we have to funnel our students into our schools so we can put eyes on them.”
Meanwhile, advocates of tougher gun control laws redoubled their efforts in the wake of Friday’s shooting, which comes only three months after the Feb. 14 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, which killed 17 people.
Mr. Cunningham, now the executive director of Education Post, proposed that parents keep their kids out of school on Sept. 4 until Congress passed “background checks for all gun purchases, a ban on assault weapons and high capacity magazines, and funding for gun research.”
Mr. Duncan cheered the idea, calling it “brilliant and tragically necessary.”
“What if no children went to school until gun laws changed to keep them safe? My family is all in if we can do this at scale. Parents, will you please join us?” tweeted Mr. Duncan.
Sen. Mark Warner, Virginia Democrat, says there isn’t one piece of legislation that would have prevented the school shooting Friday in Santa Fe, Texas.
“I don’t think there’s a single piece of legislation, but there’s a series of actions,” Mr. Warner said Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “Are there things we can do that would improve the safety of our schools? Absolutely.”
Mr. Warner advocated better mental health counseling for troubled teenagers, ensuring parents store their firearms more carefully and “reasonable and logical restraints on gun owners.
In their first statement, relatives of the shooting suspect said Saturday that they were as stunned as anyone and that they shared “the public’s hunger for answers,” adding that the bloodshed “seems incompatible with the boy we love.”
Attorney Nicholas Poehl said he was investigating media reports that his client was subjected to “teacher-on-student” bullying at the hands of the school’s football coaches, which the Santa Fe Independent School District denied in a statement.
“It has been brought to the District’s attention that several sources are falsely reporting claims about SFISD high school coaches and bully-like behaviors toward the student shooter,” said the district’s statement. “Administration looked into these claims and confirmed that these reports are untrue.”
⦁ This article was based in part on wire-service reports.