State lawmakers on verge of making schools safer after Santa Fe shooting

At a state capitol where it's pretty clear from the gun-toting statuary, access to firearms has long been a fundamental element of the culture, lawmakers have labored much of the last 12 months to deliver a means of keeping guns out of schools and millions of Texas students safer.

"Once you have a tragedy like Santa Fe, you either face it head on, like the community had to do, or you just turn your head and I'm not one for turning my head. We are going to take this task on and we are going to get it done," said State Senator Paul Bettencourt, a Houston Republican.

With passage of Senate Bill 11, lawmakers in the upper chamber have pushed through measures with a heavy emphasis on prevention. Among the initiatives - campus threat assessment teams for identification of troubled students and plenty of new money for targeted counseling.

"Counselors to not just counsel kids on the academics of school, but who can also look into the kids eyes and see that they are having problems either with themselves or somebody else is bothering them," said State Senator Borris Miles, a Houston Democrat.

In the Texas House, Greg Bonnen, who represents both the victims and survivors of Santa Fe, is leading the effort to preserve young lives.

"Helping to harden schools with respect to infrastructure and also to put more counselors and more resource officers into our schools and to help our schools fund those school safety needs," said Representative Bonnen, a Republican from Friendswood.

Support for the pro-active approach appears bi-partisan, driven by the very students the measures are meant to protect.

"The kids that were involved in these incidents and came to talk to us and said giving my teacher a gun is not going to solve the problem. What's going to solve the problem is more help for us, more help to talk to our counselors and talk through ideas," said State Representative Dan Huberty, a Republican from Humble and Chairman of the House Public Education Committee.

"If students have issues, we will have the time and resources to address those problems," said State Representative Gene Wu, a Democrat from Houston.

The Texas House is likely to vote on the new slate of campus protections sometime next week.

Support will be overwhelming and a spokesman says Governor Greg Abbott will welcome the priority measure to his desk for signature into law.