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 Texas poised to pass bill allowing guns on campus

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PostSubject: Texas poised to pass bill allowing guns on campus   Mon Feb 21, 2011 6:19 am

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Texas poised to pass bill allowing guns on campus

By Associated Press

Published 20 February 2011 10:53 PM

AUSTIN — Texas may be preparing to give college students and
professors the right to carry guns on campus, adding momentum to a
national campaign to open this part of society to firearms. More
than half the members of the Texas House have signed on as co-authors
of a measure directing universities to allow concealed handguns. The
Senate passed a similar bill in 2009 and is expected to do so again. [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.] Gov. [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.], who sometimes packs a pistol when he jogs, has said he’s in favor of the idea.Bills are still in committee so nothing has come up for a House or Senate vote yet.
Texas has become a prime battleground for the issue because of its gun
culture and its size, with 38 public universities and more than 500,000
students. It would become the second state, following [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.], to pass such a broad-based law. [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.] gives colleges the option and several have allowed handguns. Supporters of the legislation argue that gun violence on campuses, such as the mass shootings at [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.] in 2007 and Northern Illinois in 2008, show that the best defense against a gunman is students who can shoot back. “It’s strictly a matter of self-defense,” said state Sen. [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.], R-[You must be registered and logged in to see this link.].
“I don’t ever want to see repeated on a Texas college campus what
happened at Virginia Tech, where some deranged, suicidal madman goes
into a building and is able to pick off totally defenseless kids like
sitting ducks.” Until the Virginia Tech incident, the worst college shooting in U.S. history occurred at the University of Texas, when sniper [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.] went
to the top of the administration tower in 1966 and killed 16 people and
wounded dozens. Last September, a University of Texas student fired
several shots from an assault rifle before killing himself.Similar
firearms measures have been proposed in about a dozen other states, but
all face strong opposition, especially from college leaders. In
Oklahoma, all 25 public college and university presidents declared their
opposition to a concealed carry proposal.“There is no scenario
where allowing concealed weapons on college campuses will do anything
other than create a more dangerous environment for students, faculty,
staff and visitors,” Oklahoma Chancellor of Higher Education Glen
Johnson said in January. University of Texas President [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.] has opposed concealed handguns on campus, saying the mix of students, guns and campus parties is too volatile.The
majority of adult Texans, 70 percent, surveyed in a poll in December
and January opposed allowing guns on campus. The poll for The Dallas Morning News and other large newspapers in the state had a margin of error of plus or minus 3.4 percentage points. Guns on campus bills have been rejected in 23 states since 2007, but [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.] activists acknowledge it will be difficult to stop the Texas bill from passing this year.“Things
do look bleak,” said Colin Goddard, assistant director of federal
legislation for the Brady Campaign Against Gun Violence, who was in
Austin recently to lobby against the Texas bills. Goddard was a student at Virginia Tech when he was shot four times in his French class. Student Seung-[You must be registered and logged in to see this link.] killed
32 people, including 10 in Goddard’s classroom, before shooting
himself. Goddard dismisses the idea that another student with a gun
could have stopped the killer.“People tell me that if they would
have been there, they would have shot that guy. That offends me,”
Goddard said. “People want to be the hero, I understand that. They play
video games and they think they understand the reality. It’s nothing
like that.” Texas enacted its concealed handgun law in 1995,
allowing people 21 or older to carry weapons if they pass a training
course and a background check. The state had 461,724 license holders as
of Dec. 31, according to the state [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.].Businesses,
schools and churches can set rules banning guns on their premises. On
college campuses, guns are prohibited in buildings, dorms and certain
grounds around them.Opponents of campus gun rights say students
and faculty would live in fear of their classmates and colleagues, not
knowing who might pull a gun over a poor grade, a broken romance or a
drunken fraternity argument.Frankie Shulkin, a first-year law
student at the University of Texas, said he doesn’t think he’d feel
safer if other students in his classes had guns.“If I was taking
an exam and knew the person next to me had one, I don’t know how
comfortable I would feel,” Shulkin said. “I am in favor of guns rights
and your typical conservative guy, but the classroom thing bugs me.”Wentworth
said he heard the “blood on the streets” warnings when Texas first
passed the concealed handgun law. “They said we’d have shootouts at
every intersection,” he said. “None of that has happened.”

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