Lawmakers Poised to Allow Guns on Campus

A new law that might pass through the Texas legislature would mean that its 38 public colleges, which are attended by a half million students, must permit concealed handguns on campus. More than half the members of the Texas House have signed on as co-authors of the measure. Republican Governor Rick Perry, who sometimes jogs with a pistol, has said he's in favor of the idea.

Houston State Representative Garnet Coleman thinks the only people who should be carrying firearms on college campuses are the campus police.

"Anybody else with a firearm on campus is clearly a suspect for some activity, and that's what the law should be. Once you allow multiple guns on campus, even if it is concealed carry, who's to know whether that somebody is actually following the law, or just a person with a gun?"

In 2009, university students and faculty from across the state marched in opposition to measures get guns on campus. Two bills ultimately failed, but Houston state representative Sylvester Turner says the atmosphere in the
legislature might favor passage this time, but:

"I don't think it creates the right environment or a safe environment so, I'm not a supporter of it. I understand the concerns people have. I just don't think it's the best way to approach it."

More than 20 states have rejected similar proposals introduced since the worst college shooting in U.S. history happened at Virginia Tech in 2007. Texas lawmakers in favor of the measuree say it's strictly a matter of self-
defense.

Local gun shop owner Jim Pruett agrees.

"The law enforcement officers are not your private body guards. They will get there in time, and draw a nice circle around your body, and because they're good at what they do, track down the guys who did it. But, that doesn't save your life in the meantime. We alone, are responsible for our own immediate safety."    

Houston State Representative Jessica Farrar says the legislation could pass because of the Republican sentiment that cannot be denied but:

"I'm astonished though that here we are grappling with budget cuts to colleges and universities and public schools, and the entire safety net system of the state, and we are going to be focusing on putting guns on campus? I don't understand that. We should be focusing more on getting scholarships for these campuses."

Right now, guns are prohibited from university buildings, dormitories and surrounding grounds. Should the law pass, Texas would become the second state, after Utah, to allow guns on campus.  

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