Both the campus carry and the open carry bills have passed the Senate State Affairs Committee and will proceed to a full Senate vote.
Texas gun rights activists got some big news out of Austin last Thursday. Two high-profile gun bills passed the Senate State Affairs Committee and will move on to be voted on by the full Senate. Senate Bill 11 would lift a ban on concealed handguns on public university and college campuses, and Senate Bill 17 will allow concealed carry license holders to carry openly.
The public hearing lasted nearly eight hours and heard testimony from both sides and included gun activists, gun violence survivors, students, parents, and law enforcement.
Colin Goddard, who was shot four times during the deadly Virginia Tech shooting in 2007 said;
We survivors to not think that it is a good idea to have guns on campus. there is no evidence that a bill like SB 11 would do anything to stop a mass shooting, but SB 11 would make the average day on campus more dangerous in an environment where students are dealing with failing grades, alcohol abuse, relationship problems.
Several police chiefs, also opposed to the bills, said that it would be more difficult to identify the perpetrators at a crime scene and create a fiscal burden due to additional training for officers and resources to respond to additional issues involving firearms.
One man from Arlington, Texas gave the senators DVDs with video of open carry activists interfering with police to drive his point home.
Of course, there was plenty of action in support of the bills as well. Many supporters felt that there should be even less restrictions than those proposed by these bills.
TJ Fabby, a former candidate for the Texas House of Representatives said, “I believe the right to bear arms is a right. Your job is not to keep us safe, it’s to keep us free.”
The now infamous Kory Watkins of Open Carry Tarrant County promised lawmakers who opposed unlicensed open carry said, “I will walk around until my feet bleed to make sure you are never an elected official again,” which is just the kind of extremism we have come to expect from him.
Two of the biggest names of the list of speakers, Texas A&M University System Chancellor John Sharp and University of Texas System Chancellor William McRaven, came down on opposite sides of the campus carry bill. While neither universities System Chancellor was present, senators read aloud letters from each on the topic.
McRaven’s letter cautioned that campus carry would create a “less-safe” environment while Sharp felt otherwise. His letter read, “The real question is this: Do I trust my students, faculty and staff to work and live responsibly under the same laws at the university as they do at home? Of course I do!”
In the end, both bills passed with a vote of 7-2 along party lines.