Late in the regular legislative session, as it became evident that a bill allowing people with concealed handgun licenses to carry firearms on college campuses would not pass, the Senate suspended its rules to push through a less ambitious bill.
Senate Bill 1907, by state Sen. Glenn Hegar, which takes effect in September, says universities may not prohibit concealed handgun license holders from storing or transporting a firearm in a locked, privately owned car in a college campus parking lost, parking garage or other parking area.
For those hoping to carry guns on college campuses, this measure hardly goes far enough. As the summer dragged on and lawmakers remained in the Capitol for multiple special sessions, supporters of campus carry urged the Legislature to go the extra mile.
“As countless firearms companies leave gun unfriendly states and look for new homes, Texas can show itself to be serious about business rights and firearms rights alike by further clear and immediate action,” Kurt Mueller, the director of public relations for Students for Concealed Carry, wrote in a statement.
Naturally, the parked car bill did not please opponents of campus carry either.
“I’m really not sure why they passed this bill,” John Woods, a spokesman for a group called Texas Gun Sense, said this week. “I don’t think it changes very much.”
Under existing state law, concealed weapons can only be prohibited on campus “premises,” a term that does not encompass public walkways, streets or parking lots.
Woods said he does worry that Hegar’s bill might increase the prevalence of guns at tailgate events before football games and other sporting events. “On principal, we don’t think the mixture of guns and alcohol at high-stakes athletics events is the right place for firearms,” he said.
Hegar readily acknowledges that his bill is unlikely to satisfy those who want to carry concealed firearms into campus buildings. “I’m not trying to replace campus carry,” he said. “This is a different concept."
The senator said he considers SB 1907 an extension of a bill he passed in 2011 that prohibited employers from preventing their workers from storing guns in vehicles parked in employer-controlled lots.
Though that previous law, coupled with the fact that current law does not prevent the concealed carry of firearms in campus parking lots, may make this seem like an incremental change at most, Hegar called it an important step in ensuring schools don't restrict law-abiding students from storing guns in their cars.
“Everyone else has one privilege,” Hegar said, “but the student, because they are paying tuition, they are held to a different standard.”