Legislation to allow those with state-issued concealed handgun permits to carry firearms on state university and college campuses in Texas came up short in the last lawmaking session, but many supporters are optimistic a campus-carry law will be passed in the coming year.
In the last legislative session, a measure allowing campus carry passed the Texas Senate by a vote of 20-11 and had 75 co-authors in the House, but political jockeying in committee blocked a full-House vote.
Supporters of that bill, like Scott Lewis, Texas Legislative Director for Students for Concealed Carry on Campus, believes the overwhelming support it had in the legislature in 2009-10 will carry over into the upcoming session. Lewis and Daniel Crocker, southwest regional director of SCCC, spoke to The Dallas Morning News editorial board this week about the legislation.
"Why should a 22-year-old graduate student be allowed the means to defend himself when studying late at the public library but not when studying late at the campus library?" Lewis asked. "Why should a professor leaving a 5:30 a.m. workout at a local health club be allowed the means to defend herself but not a college professor leaving a 5:30 a.m. workout at the student rec center?"
State Sen. Jeff Wentworth and Rep. Joe Driver are sponsoring companion measure to allow students who meet certain conditions to carry on campus. Driver (R-Garland) has filed H.B. 1983, while Wentworth (R-San Antonio) has filed S.B. 1164.
Both pieces of legislation have garnered the support of Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who is currently embroiled in a re-election campaign.
"There are already guns on campus," Perry told the Associated Press. "All too often they are illegal. I want there to be legal guns on campus. I think it makes sense—and all the data supports—that if law-abiding, well-trained, backgrounded individuals have a weapon, then there will be less crime."
Currently, only Utah allows persons holding CCW permits to carry concealed handguns on all its state college and university campuses. In the 23 states giving universities the option to allow concealed carry, only Colorado State University and Virginia's Blue Ridge Community College have opted to do so.
And last week, the Colorado Supreme Court announced it would hear arguments on the legality of the University of Colorado's current campus-wide firearms ban. The CU Board of Regents in June voted to appeal the Colorado Court of Appeals ruling that CU violated state law by prohibiting state permit holders to carry concealed weapons on its campuses.