Bill Passes to Allow Concealed Handguns on Texas Campuses

As guns on school campuses has long been a hot debated issue, one state recently passed a bill that would allow students who are concealed licensed handgun holders to carry their weapons onto Texas campuses in a 19-12 vote, according to an article posted in the Houston Chronicle. The same day, another gun bill passed allowing lawmakers to carry concealed handguns, even in places where licensed concealed handgun carriers could not, making the day a big win for advocates of freer gun laws. The second bill would allow legislators, state elected officials, and some state employees to carry concealed weapons into churches, sporting events, bars, and hospitals, regardless of signs that may be posted outside these establishments requiring that carriers unload their weapons before entering such establishments.

The bill passed for lawmakers was in an effort to make it easier for them to protect themselves while traveling or attending public functions, while normally having to leave their weapons in their cars.  On the other hand, the bill passed for college students that allows them to now carry a weapon on campus was obviously met by criticism by members of the Senate Higher Education Committee. One University of Texas graduate student, John Woods, who was a student at Virginia Tech when a gunman opened fire in 2007, killing 32 people, lost his girlfriend in that tragic shooting. Woods believes that schools should be gun-free and that the governing boards of colleges and their beliefs on gun-free zones should not go unheard.

Senator Jeff Wentworth, of San Antonio, could not get the votes he needed in Senate to get the bill passed after meeting resistance from higher education officials, particularly from the University of Texas system, according to an article posted in Star Telegram. After several failed attempts, he won a vote to amend it to the spending bill, the article further states. Supporters of the bill say that is is a self-defense measure, while opponents of the bill are worried that allowing guns on campuses could lead to more school violence, as the country has already seen a fair share of school shootings while guns were banned from campus.

Reaction to the bill would clearly be mixed from the start, as some residents fear for safety and worry about what allowing guns on campus would actually mean. Senator Judith Zaffirini, who was a student at the University of Texas when sniper Charles Whitman perched himself on a UT tower and killed 12 people and wounded dozens of others in 1966, says she fears what would happen if police respond to a call on campus and came across people with guns drawn. Still, others are excitied about the news and feel that carrying weapons on campus would allow students to protect themselves and do not really see the threat of arming students while on campus.

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