The Senate Criminal Justice Committee today approved a controversial bill that would allow students to carry concealed handguns on college campuses.
In a brief meeting, the bill passed 4-2, with Sen. Rodney Ellis, D-Houston, and Sen. Juan "Chuy" Hinojosa, D-McAllen, opposing it. Proponents of the measure say it would make campuses safer, allowing those with a license to be armed to prevent tragedies like the 2007 Virginia Tech shootings.
Scott Lewis, of Students for Concealed Carry on Campus, said the bill would extend protective measures that apply to other Texans onto campuses. "We're not trying to create an armed militia," he said.
But John Woods, a doctoral student at the University of Texas who lost his girlfriend in the Virginia Tech shootings, said the bill has too many potential risks. "It's completely ideological. It's not about campus safety at all," Woods said.
Woods, director of the UT chapter of Students for Gun-Free Schools, has been protesting the bill since its introduction. He said similar legislation has failed in more than 20 states. "We hope, at the very least, that senators will consider an amendment that will allow public universities the decision of whether or not this is an appropriate policy for them," Woods said.
In a press release, Ellis said having more students with guns on campus would create confusion for law enforcement in situations where the safety of students is threatened. If many people have guns, it would be harder for police to identify which one they should go after.
"When there is an alcohol-related tragedy on campus, you don't hear claims that giving students more beer is the solution," Ellis said. "Yet, when it comes to gun-related incidents, we seem to think that putting more guns in the mix will lead to a good, rather than bloody, outcome."