A Texas House of Representatives bill may allow people with concealed-carry licenses to bring handguns onto college campuses.
According to the Baylor University student publication Lariat Online, House Bill 1893 is pending in the Public Safety Committee after a public debate Monday in Austin. The bill would allow concealed handguns at institutions of higher education.
Texas issued over 73,000 concealed-carry licenses in 2008.
Those seeking a license must be at least 21 years old, according to District 56 Representative Charles Anderson. The application process involves an in-depth screening, background check of applicants and training on how to handle a weapon responsibly.
Anderson co-wrote the bill with 70 of the 150 House members. He said he received favorable feedback from constituents, including several Baylor University students.
“I would feel more safe if people had guns on campus,” James Mattison, a senior at the university, said. “If police aren’t readily available, people would rather have their own protection.”
Mattison said he feels students should be allowed to have weapons in the instance of a school shooting, like the one at Virginia Tech in 2007. Mattison has a concealed-carry license.
Ralph Disher, a former investigator for the Bell County District Attorney’s office, opposes the bill. Disher believes that allowing weapons on campus would be unsafe.
“Cops kill people on accident, and they’ve had a whole lot more training,” Disher said. He has 27 years of law enforcement experience.
The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence agrees that weapons should be banned from college campuses. Their website notes that binge drinking is highest among 18 to 24-year-olds and students could be in danger if guns are available when people are under the influence of alcohol.
Texas is one of 24 states that prohibit concealed weapons on college campuses. Fifteen states allow colleges or universities to make their own decision on the issue. Utah is the only state that explicitly allows concealed weapons at all public institutions of higher education.
Six states are considering legislation similar to the Texas bill.