Politics
5:30 pm
Thu May 2, 2013

Agenda Texas: Saturday is Gun Day in the Texas House

Texas is a gun-friendly state. I’m not telling you anything you didn’t already know. That fact is easy to see during any given legislative session, when bills are often filed expanding where people can carry in the state.

This session, there are several bills that would change how people get a concealed handgun license. Rep. Dan Flynn, R-Canton, has a couple of concealed carry bills –  including one that reduces the certification course from 10 hours to four.

"There’s an awful lot of down time, lot of joke telling, lot of breaks. And as we’ve studied it and looked at it, four hours is a good time," Flynn said.

Flynn said the current course requires 10 to 15 minute breaks every hour. So that’s two and a half hours out of the 10 hours right there. His bills come to the House floor Saturday, along with a dozen more gun bills.

“Everything from inadvertent display, to parking lot bills, to the fact that we’re going to adjust the training hours for CHL and the amount of money that’s spent, and hopefully our campus carry bill," Rep. Allen Fletcher, R-Cypress, said when describing what he called "gun bill day" in the Texas House.

He’s the author of that campus carry bill, which would let concealed handgun licensees bring their weapon onto a private or public college campus. The Senate also has a campus carry bill, but it tells CHL holders to leave the gun in their car, on the campus parking lot. Fletcher hopes to get a stronger bill out of the House.

“They’re not the 18 year-old frat kids. It’s 21 year olds who’ve lived a life … who have no criminal history, that have CHLs. And we’re going to see if we can make it a lot more safe for them to carry their weapons on college campus," Fletcher said.

Lawmakers have tried and failed to pass a campus carry bill over the last few legislative sessions. But the issues got a jolt from the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary in Connecticut last December. Legislation to improve K through 12 school safety followed as well. Rep. Jason Villalba, R-Dallas, has a bill up on Saturday that would create a new class of peace officer, a school marshal.

"Our vision is that the vice principal during the summer will take time for a couple of weeks to learn to be trained as a marshal," Villalba said. "It could also be a teacher, it could be a principal, it could be a coach, it could even be a custodian. Anybody who is at the campus already and who is already employed by the school can volunteer in this role."

The volunteer would take a two-week training course to get the school marshal designation. Villalba said one key point of his bill is that the marshal would not walk around the school armed.

“We recognize the controversy of the firearm on the campus. Firearms would be kept under lock and key. But – and here’s something that we should point out, in the immediate reach of the individual serving as the marshal.”

There is one more set of bills that reflect on last year’s Sandy Hook shooting – reaction to additional gun restrictions being pushed by President Obama and some in Congress.

The Texas bills would attempt to shield Texans and Texas firearms makers from new federal gun laws. One would restrict the feds from telling Texans what kind of guns they can buy. Another would make it a criminal offense for federal officials to seize weapons if the state deems the seizure exceeds federal constitutional authority.

Those bills could be legally unnecessary – since Congress hasn’t actually passed any new gun related laws, and it’s not clear if they will anytime soon.

Share your opinion on the proposed gun bills coming to the House floor Saturday. Our e-mail is AgendaTexas@kut.org. And on Twitter, we’re @AgendaTexas.