Just before a midnight deadline, the Texas House approved a bill requiring public universities to allow concealed handguns on campus.
The so-called campus carry bill is headed back to the Texas Senate. On May 27, House lawmakers quickly approved the bill requiring Texas universities to allow concealed handguns on campus.
The original bill gave private universities the choice to opt out of allowing guns on their campuses. However, House members accepted several amendments before giving final approval.
The new language requires private universities to follow the same rules as public universities. Another amendment exempts health facilities on campus and allows universities to designate gun-free zones.
Proponents of the bill argue that banning concealed handgun license holders from carrying their firearms on campus infringes on their rights as law-abiding citizens. They also state only residents 21 years or older can obtain a concealed handgun license in Texas, so most underclassmen will not be allowed to bring their guns on campus.
Opponents include University of Texas chancellor Admiral William McRaven, as well as a group of Texas police chiefs. McRaven wrote a letter voicing his opposition to the bill, stating concern for the safety of students, faculty, and staff.
“There is great concern that the presence of handguns, even if limited to licensed individuals age 21 or older, will lead to an increase in both accidental shootings and self-inflicted wounds,” wrote McRaven.
If the Senate does not agree with the amendments, which deviate significantly from the original language, lawmakers will convene in conference committee to iron out their differences. Both chambers must then approve the final version of the bill before it hits Governor Greg Abbott’s desk.
Early this year, Abbott said he would sign campus carry legislation.