Texas lawmakers pondering allowing concealed weapons on college campuses

Backpack? Check. Homework? Check. 9×19 mm Glock 26 with a subcompact variant? Maybe in Texas.

Texas state legislators are pushing to give license-holding college students and professors the right to carry concealed weapons on college campuses.

The two bills favoring the right to carry were referred to legislative committees for further review this month. One was first filed in the state assembly last November by state Rep. David Simpson (R-Longview) and is part of his promise to contend for gun rights and self-defense.

“An individual should not have to choose between the personal right of self-protection and obtaining an education,” Simpson’s blog said. “In light of the recent incidence of gunfire on the University of Texas campus, the legislation is overdue.”

Simpson is referring to the UT-Austin student who opened fire last September before shooting and killing himself.

While similar bills have been proposed in several other states and failed, success looks possible in Texas, as several members of the Texas House have signed onto the bill as co-authors.

However, several institutions, including UT-Austin, have expressed their opposition to the concealed handguns on campus.

Don Hale, vice president for public affairs, said UT-Austin President William Powers Jr. has publicly expressed his opposition to the bill, saying that the mix of students, guns, and parties is too dangerous.

Lucas Powe, a UT-Austin law professor and Second Amendment expert, said he is sure a number of students would take advantage of the bill, though he does not think the bill will deter any future incitement of violence on campus.

“As a professor, I wouldn’t like guns in my class,” Powe said in an e-mail. “Though, the Texas legislature is crazy. They may do anything.”

Proponents of the bill believe such shootings, including the Virginia Tech shooting in 2007, can be avoided if there are other students present to shoot back.

Students For Concealed Carry On Campus, an activist group for campus self-defense, puts forth several arguments on its website favoring concealed carrying on college campuses.

In response to an argument that guns on campus would lead to an escalation in violent crime, the website cites success in Utah where a similar bill has already been made law.

While no state license is required to possess a handgun in Texas, those who wish to carry must submit an application to the Texas Department of Public Safety. Applicants must be at least 21 years old, have no felony records, addictions or mental illnesses, and must complete a handgun proficiency course, according to the Public Safety website.

Wisconsin legislators have attempted to pass concealed carry laws for several years, however it remains one of the few states to not provide a statutory provision for obtaining a license or permit to carry a concealed weapon. Those with a license to possess a weapon may do so in public, but only in an open manner.

Nicholas Schad, a junior in the College of Business Administration and an avid hunter, does not think this kind of bill will prevent on-campus violence. He also believes those who choose not to take advantage of it will feel more vulnerable.

“You can’t really come to a conclusive ending on either side,” Schad said in an e-mail. “Even me, someone who would take advantage of it, would probably feel less safe at night.”

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