“Guns on Campus” Bill Zooms through Texas Senate

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When House Bill 1893 failed to come to a vote in the House before last week's deadline, opponents to allowing guns on campus rejoiced at what they thought was a major victory.  Now, they know, only Senate Bill 1164 would have to be stopped.

Unfortunately, once HB 1893 died, SB 1164 started rolling.  Last Thursday, on a 6-3 vote, the Senate Commitee on State Affairs reported the Guns on Campus bill favorably, bucking the desires of many student governments and university presidents across the state.  Today, the Republican-heavy Senate moved swiftly on the bill, preparing it to go to the House.

Hopefully, the amount of Democrats in the House will stymie the chances of a bill that is fundamentally against those wanting sound policy with our higher education institutions.  Such a favorable outcome is far from certain, though. Not only did a handfull of Democrats sign on as coauthors to HB 1893, but two Democrats in the Senate Joint Authored SB 1165: Eddie Lucio and Juan Hinojosa.  Those who followed the Place 1 City Council race here in Austin know of Eddie Lucio's un-Democratic votes on social issues, but that was not Perla Cavazos's fault — his negative deeds are continuing here.  As far as the second Senate Democrat, Juan Hinojosa; I have no idea why he signed on to such a negative bill.

The Democratic Party is supposed to be the party of education.  We are supposed to listen, with great respect, to those who make policy at our schools (i.e. university presidents) and to those who always feel the effects of said policy (i.e. the students).  One would think this issue is crystal clear, and I can only hope it becomes that way real soon for House Democrats.

Update: Thanks to commenter Fine Bottled Water.  He pointed out that there were other Democrats who voted for this in the Senate, too.  Senators Gallegos, Whitmire, and Uresti: Come on, guys.  

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55 Comments

    • This is not about self-defense
      There is virtually no violent crime on college campuses. Against what do you intend to defend yourself? That makes me very uncomfortable, you thinking you're seeing all this supposed crime. What poor student are you going to accidentally shoot because you feel persecuted?

      • in 3…2…1…
        Waiting for Bluefish to point to today's knife-point robbery at UT. Because adding a gun to that situation would help!

        Actually, the proposed law wouldn't change that situation at all since it occurred outside on campus where concealed carry permits are already allowed.  

        • More extreme far left blather from K-T M
          Thank goodness for Senator Whitmire and the others that broke ranks with the extreme left of our party. Common sense of self-defense overrules the grab your ankles and let it happen response that extreme left D's espouse. We need more Joe Horns!!

      • 5/4/70
        Kent State Massacre by Ohio National Guard. Four dead in Ohio, with nine wounded by sixty seven shots fired into a crowd of anti-war protesters in thirteen seconds.

        There was a significant national response to the shootings: hundreds of universities, colleges, and high schools closed throughout the United States due to a student strike of eight million students, and the event further divided the country, at this already socially contentious time, along political lines. I was in high school at the time in a very redneck part of Houston. There was an intense reaction, even at the high school level, to this event.

        Good thing students were not armed on college campuses during the Vietnam War. I am very pro-gun in general, but I am not up for guns in bars, hospitals, courthouses, churches, and schools unless they are carried by law enforcement officers. Let's make this a good common sense argument, not that all good Democrats are anti-gun rights in general and against guns on higher educational campuses in particular.

        • good for you
          I am glad that you are very pro-gun, but with a Texas CHL, guns are already allowed in liquor stores, churches, hospitals and amusement parks.  This is in the law and cannot be disputed.

          In fact, a CHL holder can go onto UT campus (or any other college campus) and walk around and be perfectly legal so long as he does not enter a building.  This law would simply allow a CHL holder to enter the building.  How does entering the building turn a responsible gun owner and CHL holder into a possible threat?

          • Property Rights
            If a property owner or organization chooses to ban weapons on their property that is their choice and right. I pack a pistol almost everywhere I go either on my hip or concealed. As a peace officer, I resent being disarmed at airports and at federal courthouses, but I learned to live with it.

            I also realize that if I am out of uniform and involved in an incident involving gun fire, I am subject to being hit by friendly fire from other peace officers responding to the incident. So if an officer tells you to drop a gun, you best do it, whether a CHL holder or not. I know I am.

          • property rights
            Since when does a government-run public institution of higher education have private property rights?

            If a private university doesn't want guns on campus, fine.  But a public institution is another matter.

          • Public Insitutions?
            The Travis County Courthouse is a government-run public institution also. So do you think CHL holders should have a right to pack their guns in court rooms as well as public college class rooms?

          • judges can
            Judges can carry inside a courtroom under TX law, and there are many incidences of judges going off the deep end or breaking laws.  I don't agree that they should be able to carry but nobody else can.  But that's beside the point.  

            However, due to the type of work that takes place in a courtroom, I agree that it is one of the very few places where guns should be restricted.  In a courtroom, you have a life and death decisions being made regarding the outcome of criminal and civil cases, and the chance for a convicted individual to come and take revenge against a judge/prosecutor is high, just as the chance is high for a victim's relative to go and try and take revenge against an accused individual.  I think that a college classroom is a completely different environment with completely different situations where the limiting of lawful possession of handguns is unwarranted.

    • And double fail to Bluefish
      Seeing now that you references the 1966 Tower shootings, I thought I would reply with the following from today's Austin Chronic Blog post.

      (Interesting to me that UT's tower shooting never came up in the debate. Perhaps because concealed carry permits didn't exist back then, and because numerous Austinites and students came running onto campus with their guns and actually worked with police – albeit to little effect – during the Whitman incident.)

    • My Dorm At College
      All I know is that if guns were allowed in the mixed aged dorm that I lived in my Freshman year at SMU, we would have had at least two or three killings.  As it was, four individuals had to go to the ER as a result of assaults, all but one of which involved at least on horribly intoxicated party.  (Never mind the arrest of the two guys dealing cocaine.)  I can only imagine the increased carnage that would have resulted if guns had been around.  It certainly wouldn't have been pretty.  

  1. Guns on Campus
    Why do you believe students will be accidentally shot?  Your argument of a legally licensed student shooting someone because he/she feels persecuted is completely inappropriate, and has no business in a discussion on this issue.  Look at the amount of crime committed by people legally licensed to carry a concealed handgun that actually use said gun in the commission of a crime.   It is virtually non-existent.  Criminals do not register a gun, and certainly do not receive a license to carry one.  In fact, a felon is not allowed to own a gun in the first place.  If a student is going to shoot someone on campus, he will bring a gun, regardless of whether or not he has a license. Why will a student, over the age of 21 and legally licensed to carry a gun, be more likely to shoot someone on campus rather than off campus?  Finally, if I am not mistaken, I read in the Statesman that a student was mugged at UT today, ironic that no crime exists on campus.  If Democrats want to lose ground in Texas, all they need to do is begin restricting citizen's rights to own and carry guns.  Listen to former Congressman Charlie Wilson who said the only thing his district wanted was “guns and low taxes.”    

    • Where did I make the argument you mention?
      In this post, I did not talk about the possibility of students accidentally getting shot.  That's the least of my worries with the guns on campus ideas.

      I am worried about the possibility of someone getting mad at someone and then taking out their gun that they carry only because they are allowed to.  But even that isn't my biggest worry.

      My biggest worry is that many student bodies feel uncomfortable with the idea, and that universities feel that allowing guns on campus inhibits their ability to provide the best education possible.  As I said, “The Democratic Party is supposed to be the party of education.”  That is why I stand where I do on this issue more than anything else.

  2. stop being so naive
    Yes, universities are a place for learning and ideally they would be no place for guns.  But we don't live in an ideal world and not every college campus is as safe as UT.  When I turn on the TV every night, I still see news stories about robberies and murders and home invasions, so it's obvious that our world is not safe enough to warrant the elimination of guns altogether.  But, the fact of the matter is, it's not only on-campus that the University's policies can have an impact on someone's safety, but also off campus.  

    Have you ever walked through West Campus at 2 AM after a night of studying?  The number of assaults and muggings AROUND campus is astounding.  However, with a CHL, those individuals that are of legal age and have proved to the state through rigorous training and a background check would be able to protect themselves while walking home from the library.  Right now, these individuals must be unarmed and defenseless at all times.  

    Yes, UT has a big police force, but think honestly about it, and police are usually only there to write their report about what happened; they very rarely stop a crime from happening.  Knowing that individuals walking home from campus might be armed is a pretty big incentive for these thugs to go elsewhere.

    CHL holders are some of the most law-abiding citizens in the state.  Statistics show that a CHL holder is less likely to commit a crime, and they have already proven through the very intensive state and FBI background checks that they do not have a criminal history.

    The idea that you might be “uncomfortable” with a fellow student or a professor being armed on campus is rather hilarious.  Do you have the same fear when you go to the grocery store?  Are you scared of the person sitting next to you at the movie theater?  What about when you go to a bank?  1% of the TX population has a CHL, so when you go to the movies, the odds are pretty good that at least one person in that theater has a handgun on them.  Scared now?  The fact is, CHL holders are already able to go so many places that you already go and yet you have no fear of them.  Why?  Because we carry our weapons CONCEALED, just as the law intended.  This would not change if carry was allowed on college campuses.  

    • Uncomfortable
      I don't know if the word “uncomfortable” is the right one, but of course we are uneasy when we go other public places about anybody having a gun.  When I go to the bank and see a guard with a gun, even that makes me uneasy.  I'd rather he be sitting there with a radio.  

    • Not Naive
      Guns are already legal in the West Campus area, so this argument doesn't hold water.

      I am disturbed by the writer's distain for law enforcement officers: “Yes, UT has a big police force, but think honestly about it, and police are usually only there to write their report about what happened; they very rarely stop a crime from happening.” I know that it is trendy for some people to be down on campus officers, but it is inappropriate at best.

      The poster also betrays a general lack of understanding of law enforcement: most crimes are detected after the fact by all agents. The only ones that are statistical exceptions are traffic violations, which are usually observed while they are committed.

       “The idea that you might be “uncomfortable” with a fellow student or a professor being armed on campus is rather hilarious.” “Hilarious” is quite a word when it is used to describe the anxiety other people have. As other posters have pointed out, we're also talking about civility in relationships and appropriate sensitivity.

      • yes they are legal
        My point is, if you are on campus studying until 2 AM, you must be unarmed while you are on campus in a campus building.  You decide to walk home to your apartment in West Campus.  You are forced to be unarmed during your journey home simply because of the policies in force on campus, despite that you have the legal ability to carry your weapon elsewhere.

        My point on police only being there to write the report is that most individuals that are against CHL holders bringing their weapons on campus use the argument of “increasing police” on campus.  Well, that's great, but police cannot be everywhere all the time.  Police may provide something of a deterrent, but the fact that crimes are still committed on and around campus shows that they aren't the solution unless you can get one police officer following each student on campus.  It will also generally take between 3-10 minutes for police to show up to the scene of a crime.  If this were a violent incident, how long do you really think it would take for a thug to hurt you or your loved ones before police responded?  

        • Education at OK Corral
          How often are CHL holders over-powered?  Assailants usually have the advantage of surprise–and of the fact that they can have weapons at the ready.

          During a long life, I've only been mugged once and that not on campus; the assailant got me from behind, so a handgun would have been useless to me.  As it was, he probably would have gotten my gun in addition to some loose change and a few credit cards if I had been a CHL holder. BTW, except for a small bump on my head, and a bruised ego, I was not injured. (Which is not to minimize the general severity of assaults, especially on women!)

          You are idealizing self-defense situations, beyond the realm of realism and practicality. You are minimizing the additional risks that armed victims might face.

  3. Reply to UT Professor
    Has it occurred to you that if the mentally ill student is unstable and decides to shoot you, he/she probably will not check state law to see if it is legal to carry a firearm on campus? We are all exposed to potential violence every day whether at the mall or any other place. Why would you not want the good guys (law abiding citizens) that are on your side to be armed? Law abiding citizens by definition are law abiding. That means they, more than likely, will not shoot you if you make them mad. They have families, careers, and reputations to uphold. Using a firearm in a criminal way would take all of that away from them. On the other hand, criminals or potential criminals are not going to be stopped by a law. They will proceed right on with their selfish agenda. All most of these type of people respect is force or the threat of brute force as a deterrent to their crimes. They do not care about anybody but himself or herself and will do anything wrong if they think they can get away with it without consequences.

    There are always exceptions to the rules i.e. good people do turn bad at times. I say that if someone threatens me with force, I would hope to be in the position to defend myself with equal or superior force.

    I suggest that you get yorself a gun and learn to use it. You can still pray that no one attacks you, but if they do, you will have some hope of being able to defend yourself.

    Thanks for listening.

  4. Indeed
    I pointed to Hinojosa and Lucio because they joint authored the bill.  I was not in the Senate at the time of the vote and wanted to make a post, but I made it before seeing who voted for what.

  5. Reply to Carry
    The original post indicated that professors interact with students who are mentally unstable; that's pretty common, I can tell you after 40 years in university classrooms. As it is, campus police can intervene in threatening situations because they are sworn officers and are armed legally. Under the proposed law, they run the risk of being out-gunned.  The difficulty is that some people with serious mental illnesses do not calculate what they have to uphold, family, jobs, and the like. They act obsessionally and, often, destructively.

    Where do you draw the line? “I say that if someone threatens me with force, I would hope to be in the position to defend myself with equal or superior force.” What kind of weapons give you “superior force”?

    As ALL of the heads of our state-operated colleges and universities have testified, as have campus security officers, the bill will facilitate the escalation of violence on campuses, making it increasingly difficult to recruit first-rate faculty and security personnel. Listen to them.  

  6. Sidestepping the Real Issue
    Yes, the this back and forth sidesteps the real issue that divides people on this issue.  I suspect that the professor wouldn't carry a gun even if he were allowed to do so.  If I were in his situation, I would not.  I view carrying a gun as 1) dangerous because the gun is more likely to be taken form me and used against me than to be used by me; 2) a sign that the bonds of civility that hold our society together are far more broken than they in fact actually are.  In my view, if one needs to carry a gun to be safe in society, then we should move somewhere else.  And as a result of my views on these two subjects, I tend to view anyone who would carry a gun into a normally safe situation with a substantial degree of suspicion.  So when I see someone advocating allowing more open access to guns, I see only increased danger to me, and no increase in safety.  I wonder if the professor isn't in the same boat as I am in terms of attitudes.

    Of course, I realize that those who favor expansion of the availability of guns have a different set of attitudes and may feel more safe.  But ya'll are arguing as if there is some objective set of facts that divide people on this issue.  I think instead what divides us is our concept of society and our view of the role of the individual in that society.  

  7. Different kinds of risks
    If an irate student decides to kill me, he can go home, get a gun, and come back and shoot me. That's a risk I have to live with, and you're right that the rules against carrying guns on campus don't do anything to stop it.

    However, the current rules do stop him from already being armed when he gets the bad news about the exam. It's the (common) momentary fits of rage, not the (rare) premeditated acts, that become a heckuva lot more dangerous with concealed carry. Right now, he can pick up a ball point pen from my desk and stab me with it, and I might get a nasty scar, but I won't die. If he's got a gun, there's a good chance that I will. If we both have guns, there's a good chance that we both will die.

    In emotionally stressful situations (like finals week), we need to lower the stakes, not have an arms race.  

  8. testifying = prophecising?
    The same arguments were made back in 1995 when the entire CHL program was first being developed and being debated.  Groups argued that there would be blood running in the streets and gun fights on every street corner.  That never happened.

    Being a law enforcement officer does not make you better trained with a weapon.  Most law enforcement agencies require their officers to qualify with their weapon only once a year.  Most officers don't shoot their gun outside of that qualification.  I, and many CHL holders, go to the range frequently (at least once a month).  I would argue that some CHL holders have a higher level of training and accuracy with their weapon than a law enforcement officer.  And sorry to break it down for you, but CHL holders are also “legally armed.”

    CHL holders are trained how to respond when confronted by a police officer.  The idea that police officers will begin shooting CHL holders simply means that your police department needs more training on how to react to an active shooter situation.

    Texas law has very specific definitions for situations in which you, as a citizen, can use deadly force.  You can't simply pull out your gun and shoot someone because they flipped you the bird.  We have legal responsibilities that go with carrying our handguns are there are very serious legal repercussions for us if we fail to follow the law.

  9. Facts
    This was a mixed overflow dorm with everybody from Freshmen to Seniors in it.  A couple of the assaults were related to upperclassmen complaining about the noise from the Freshmen on the floor below.  

  10. This Is a Reply?
    Please show me the parts of this item that replies to Reply to Carry.

    This poster has an incredibly naive view of a large class of people: CHL holders. It would be great if any large class of citizens were as ideal and as stable as this poster believes them to be. Unfortunately….

    He also ignores what he can't handle: “And sorry to break it down for you, but CHL holders are also “legally armed.” The debate is over the pending bill and its potential impacts, not over the broader issues of concealed hand gun permits.

    “Most law enforcement agencies require their officers to qualify with their weapon only once a year.  Most officers don't shoot their gun outside of that qualification.  I, and many CHL holders, go to the range frequently (at least once a month).  I would argue that some CHL holders have a higher level of training and accuracy with their weapon than a law enforcement officer.” I'd like to read what some law enforcement officers have to say about this stunner. It seems to me that taking his argument this far comes close to reducing it to absurdity.

  11. I never said CHL holders were perfect
    I simply said that statistically we are less likely to commit crimes.  It's not an opinion but facts supported by TX DPS.  But we're not perfect.  An incident earlier this week in which a CHL instructor shot his wife is a clear example of this.  But police officers are not perfect either.  And neither are the legislators that write our laws.

  12. It is a different attitude
    I don't see a civilized society when I wake up in the morning.  I see news reports of rapes and murders and robberies and home invasions.  I realize that bad things happen to good people.  I realize that police, while a good asset for solving crimes, are rarely at the right place at the right time to prevent a crime from occurring or to defend an individual that is being attached.  I realize that the only person responsible for my own safety is myself.  I don't go out looking for trouble, but if trouble should come and find me, I at least have the knowledge that I might be able to defend myself rather than having to succumb to whatever the bad guy has in mind.

    We like to think that our society is so “civilized.”  I don't really see the civility.  When crimes become a rarity, I say there is no need for guns outside of sporting.  But we are nowhere near that level of civility in our society.

  13. good for you that you feel safe with your tools
    But not everyone has the benefit of a decade of hand-to-hand combat under their belt.  Not everyone has the time or the discipline required to master such a method of self defense.  But almost anyone can very quickly learn how to safely use a handgun and with practice, can become proficient in the use of a handgun in self-defense situations.  Why should you be able to limit another individual's ability to lawfully defend themselves with the tools that they have at their disposal?

  14. because the University says so
    quite frankly, everyone can carry around knives without training.

    I think it's a significant point that the universities feel they can't have a proper educational environment with guns on the campus.  I think that's the main reason.  There are other ways to defend yourself.  There are also police, and I worry a bit that if I had a gun I would shoot before calling police in most scenarios.

    Moreso, guns are very different than other types of defense in that they require no training or practice in order to kill someone with it.  True, everyone who gets a CHL needs background checks and then they aren't likely, according to statistics, to commit many crimes.  If you want to debate safety, we can talk of the possibility of the 1/1000 CHL holders who might crack in the stressful school environment, which causes significant problems by itself.

    But I want to hear why the universities (the experts) are wrong on the education argument, too.

  15. Not Birds of a Feather
    I'm troubled by your placing the violent CHL instructor and police officers in the same category “not perfect either.” Police officers, on and off campus, are fallible, but I seem to have a lot more confidence in them than you do. They work under highly stressful conditions in life-threatening situations, performing well for the most part. I don't intend to defend the lege, but putting them in the “not perfect either” category with the CHL instructor is inaccurate and unfair.

    BTW, I'd find it informative so see the sources that provide “facts supported by TX DPS.” You might be accurate, but given your tendency to generalize beyond reason, I'd rather look at them myself.

  16. Really?
    If your reading of the law is correct, then Senator Wentworth's bill is unnecessary.  A legal challenge in federal courts to university regulations regarding CHL would be adequate. Though I oppose the bill, I think that he is accurate in assuming that enabling legislation is necessary, even in the light of the recent USSC decision.  

  17. I agree
    They should be worrying about school.  There is no requirement for anybody to begin carrying on campus.  If you don't want to, then nothing for you changes.  University police will still be there doing their job.

  18. Yes!
    Yes, Sen. Wentworth's bill is unnecessary in principle (see 2nd amendment). What he is combating with SB 1164 is the whims and emotions of public higher-education institutions that have unconstitutionally banned weapons on their campuses. SB 1164 doesn't enable people to have guns on campus per se, it merely admits/reaffirms/recognizes that the 2nd amendment and the right of people to defend themselves doesn't take a backseat depending on their setting.

    You either have the liberty or you don't, otherwise it's just a law which can be overturned/taken away/struck-down at any given time.  

  19. but…
    Shouldn't that be the job of the courts, and not the legislature?

    And if the courts haven't already done that (and I think they have actually said otherwise), than isn't your reading of the law practically inaccurate?

  20. The Wentworth Bill
    As dialogue has evolved, it is clear that the bill is unnecessary in both principle and fact. You have ignored your right to file in federal courts on that point. It's a matter of law and not of “whims and emotions.”

    I wonder if the State of Texas will arm college and university staff and faculty. Though there have been exceptions, AGs in the past have held that state institutions that require employees to wear work-specific clothing or use work-designated equipment are entitled to provision or reimbursement. Does the budget provide for pistol-packing profs?

  21. Later
    I have refered that site reference to a friend who teaches criminology, so one of us will get back to your point.

  22. but of course
    But it doesn't take a criminologist to do a simple statistical analysis of the numbers.  Converting those numbers to convictions per 100,000 shows a very stark reduction in CHL conviction rates compared to the general population.  From the 2006 numbers:

    Overall – The general population over age 21 is over 7 times as likely to commit any offense listed by DPS as are CHLs

    Assault – The general population over age 21 is over 8 times as likely to commit an assault as are CHLs

    Burglary – The general population over age 21 is over 38 times as likely to commit a burglary as are CHLs

    Prohibited Weapons – The general population over age 21 is over 21 times as likely to be convicted of possessing prohibited weapons as are CHLs

    Robbery – The general population over age 21 is over 63 times as likely to commit a robbery as are CHLs

  23. Paranoia
    Life is really not so scary.  If I woke up every day thinking I had to carry a gun to be safe, I would go get counseling.  (And maybe some meds!)  

    Oh, I am female and NOT AFRAID.

  24. seatbelts
    I don't wake up every day thinking that I'm going to get in a wreck or worrying excessively about the likelihood of getting in a car crash, but I still buckle my seat belt every time I get in a car.  I have this same mentality when I strap my gun to my belt every morning.

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