When the Senate approved an amendment to state Sen. Judith Zaffirini's higher education bill that would permit the carry of concealed handguns on university campuses by a vote of 19 to 12, the Laredo Democrat killed her own legislation to prevent it from going through.
Sen. Jeff Wentworth, R-San Antonio, has just under the 21 votes he needs to get his campus carry legislation to be brought up for consideration on the Senate floor. So instead, he tacked it on as an amendment to Zaffirini's Senate Bill 5, which eliminated certain university reporting requirements with the intent of reducing administrative costs.
After Zaffirini failed to knock off Wentworth's amendment on a technicality, Democrats offered fiery opposition. They came forward with a series of amendments to the amendment that attempted to defang it by leaving the decision up to individual boards of regents. Wentworth rejected them because he said that campus carry policy was best decided by the Legislature — not board members who were not accountable to voters.
Sen. Leticia Van de Putte, D-San Antonio, tried to get an exemption for San Antonio's University Health Sciences Center, which is connected to a public hospital. Wentworth turned down that one because he said physicians were in favor of the legislation. Sen. Eddie Lucio Jr., D-Brownsville, tried — and failed — to do the same with universities that share space with secondary or primary schools.
Wentworth did agree to one amendment: from Sen. Rodney Ellis, D-Houston, which would provide an insurance reimbursement for universities if their liability costs rose as a result of campus carry. That was because, Wentworth said, those costs have not risen in states that have already passed similar bills.
"The risk doesn't increase with guns on campus," Wentworth said.
After Zaffirini pulled her bill, Wentworth said that it was "no secret" that he would be looking at other bills on which to amend his campus carry measure in the House and Senate — and "just maybe" trying to find that remaining vote to get the two-thirds he needs for the Senate to take it up on the floor.