Not long after a gunman ran through the University of Texas campus randomly firing an AK-47 and then shot himself, an old debate resurfaced: Should concealed handguns be allowed on campus?
Currently, concealed handguns are prohibited on college campuses in Texas. Last session, state Rep. Joe Driver, R-Garland, and state Sen. Jeff Wentworth, R-San Antonio, pushed a bill that would have allowed concealed handgun license-holders to carry weapons on campus. The bill passed the Senate but was left hanging in the House.
At 10:34 this morning, as news of the UT incident spread, Tarrant County Republican Party Chairwoman Stephanie Klick tweeted, "Too bad for UT students that Conceal Carry on Campus did not pass during the last legislative session."
While nobody was hurt other than the shooter, Klick says the incident could have been much worse. "We got lucky this time," she tells the Tribune, "but there have been other campuses where many have been killed."
John Woods, a graduate student at UT, was a student at Virginia Tech University when a gunman killed 32 people, including his girlfriend. During the session, he became the most prominent face of the opposition to concealed carry. This morning, his position remained unchanged.
"I'd just point out that the only person who's been killed has been the shooter," Woods told the Tribune. "I think the situation might be a lot more chaotic and a lot more deadly if a number of students had tried to go in and be heroes." Ultimately, he said, the system worked.
Klick does not believe that license holders would create chaos, because in order to get their licenses, they must go through background checks and receive training. "These gun-free zones make people sitting ducks when you have a crazed gunman," she said.
Driver told the Tribune today that, if re-elected, he plans on reintroducing the campus-carry bill next session. But not because of this morning's events; Driver says that has been his plan all along and is not influenced by the incident at UT, about which he feels it's still too early to comment.
If the bill is reintroduced, Woods says he "absolutely" will be there to fight it.
Texas Tribune donors or members may be quoted or mentioned in our stories, or may be the subject of them. For a complete list of contributors, click here.