The national advocacy organization for responsible gun ownership, Mom's Demand Action, along with their Texas chapters are calling state Senators today urging them to vote no on two bills to liberalize the presence of guns at educational institutions — HB 972 “Campus Carry” and HB 1009 the “Protection of Texas Children Act”. Such bills are knee jerk reaction to the national dialogue about guns in America, and are more about Texas Republicans digging their spurs into the ground to defend the state's reputation as the last frontier for true conservatism than they are about protecting students.
First, House Bill 972 referred to as “Campus Carry” is a misnomer. It implies that under current law campuses can not chose to allow licensed concealed handgun owners to carry their weapons on campus, which is not true. Currently each institution of higher education can vote to allow guns to be carried on campus, but this legislation, which is on today's intent calendar in the Texas Senate, would reverse that policy forcing campus' to vote to opt out each year.
Similar legislation has failed in past sessions, but as guns become the new rage for the right and Republicans in Texas run out of taxes and social programs to cut, the measure for true conservatism seems to be how ubiquitous one can make guns in society. This is a litmus test by design and not by demand…
Click the jump for the latest twist in this story… Last year the Princeton Review ranked Texas A&M University the most conservative college student body in the nation, and contrary to what “conservatives” in the legislature have been arguing, students at A&M voted twice to keep the ban of guns on campus — recently by 57%.
The other bill HB 1008 “Protection of Texas Children Act”, has also been pushed with a dubious description. Proponents of the bill slated for public hearing today upon adjournment (apparently at Dan Patrick's desk) claim that the program would be modeled after the Federal Air Marshal Program. However the so called, “School Marshals” would not have near the training of actual law enforcement officials. According to Mom's Demand Action for Gun Sense in America:
“Federal Air Marshals receive 155 hours of firearms training as part of a full 16-week program; the armed volunteers created by HB 1009 would receive only 80 hours of firearms training. Entrance into the Federal Air Marshal Program requires at least 4 years of previous law enforcement experience, while the “school marshals” created by HB 1009 would only be required to procure a concealed handgun license.”
This session through the timing of political opportunity has seen more than it's share of bad gun legislation. It's not that Texas wasn't a gun friendly state before but this “gun show” is necessary to further the politically acceptable tenets of secession, a disdain for the federal government and a “from my cold dead hands” mentality about the changing politics of our nation — remember the Alamo?