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Texas governor says guns must be kept from criminals

Republican Gov. Greg Abbott says the criminal history of a man who killed seven people in West Texas this weekend means “we must keep guns out of criminals’ hands.”

Abbott’s tweet Monday is similar to his comments that followed another mass shooting in El Paso last month, when he the governor said firearms must be keep out of the hands of “deranged killers.” But Abbott, an avid gun rights supporter, has been noncommittal on tightening gun laws in Texas.

Police killed 36-year-old Seth Aaron Ator outside an Odessa movie theater Saturday to end a rampage that began when Ator fled a traffic stop. Court records show Ator was arrested in 2001 for a misdemeanor offense that would not have prevented him from legally purchasing firearms in Texas.

Abbott tweeted that Ator failed a previous gun background check and didn’t go through one for the weapon he used in Odessa. But Abbott didn’t elaborate on when Ator failed the background check or the reasons why.

His spokesman referred questions to the Texas Department of Public Safety, which didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.