Politics
6:55 pm
Wed May 22, 2013

Texas Senator Says Campus Carry Bill Has Slim Survival Chance

Update (May 23, 2013): A slew of gun bills that passed out of the House earlier this month did not make it to the Senate floor by the deadline to consider all House bills.

These include measures that would exempt Texas from federal laws on certain firearms and accessories, another penalizing the seizure of firearms by a government official. That means that chances these bills get any closer to Gov. Rick Perry's desk are slim at best. The Governor may choose to bring up gun measures during a special session.

Original post from May 22, 2013:

This morning, State Sen. Brian Birdwell, R-Granbury, told reporters he’s “frustrated” and “disappointed.” That’s because he lacks enough votes to get House Bill 972 out of the Senate.

The measure by State Rep. Allen Fletcher, R-Cypress, would allow students, faculty and staff who have concealed handgun licenses to carry their guns onto most buildings of college campuses, with some exceptions like hospitals and sporting event venues.

Unlike an original version he introduced earlier in the session – Senate Bill 182 – this House bill would allow public universities to opt out. 

“In my view -- whether it was Sandy Hook or events at Lone Star College…we see what happens when  people can’t defend themselves,” he said. “Defending the constitutional right is always appropriate and that’s what I’m trying to accomplish.”

The only way it could stand a chance today was if a senator offered this campus carry bill as an amendment to another bill so that it still lives in some form. But Sen. Birdwell promised his colleagues he wouldn't do that himself.

"Therefore if it did get attached in some way to a bill, it would have to be via another senator because I will not break my word to my colleagues both on the Democratic and Republican side," he added.

Without that option, it won't get to the Governor's desk because Senate Democrats don’t support it. State Sen. John Whitmire, D-Houston, said it’s time for a “cooling off” period after these recent tragedies, not a time to expand where people can bring their concealed handguns.

Earlier today, Senators did pass a gun measure – HB 1009 – that would allow schools to train certain officials, or marshals, to use a gun if they need to stop a potential attacker.

That one would allow participating schools to keep the weapon locked away until the staff member needs it.

But it didn’t get Sen. Whitmire’s support.

“You probably get shot going for it,” Sen. Whitmire said about the risk to the marshal. “The only way a weapon helps you is if you have access to it. So it’s a very questionable piece of legislation.”

He says it passed the Senate because of local control.

Gov. Rick Perry could choose to bring back the campus carry bill if lawmakers are called back for a special session after next Monday, the last day of the 83rd Legislature. 

If that happens, Sen. Birdwell will reintroduce his original bill, which doesn't allow an opting out.

"My biggest concern is you take a U.S. constitutional right and a state constitutional right and subject it to the discretion of a university president," he said. "A university president is not senior to God Almighty, who gives us our rights."