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Username: John Woods
PersonId: 4517
Created: Sun Nov 02, 2008 at 02:34 PM CST
John Woods's RSS Feed
Web Page: texas.gunfreeschools.org
Email: john@gunfreeschools.org

I am the state-wide director for Students for Gun-Free Schools in Texas. I attended Virginia Tech from 2002 to 2007, and am currently at The University of Texas at Austin for Ph.D. work.

How Senate Republicans Destroyed the State Senate Through Bullying

by: John Woods

Thu Jun 27, 2013 at 10:55 AM CDT

(A thoughtful post on Senate traditions.   - promoted by Katherine Haenschen)

As Americans, we have a profound respect for the rules. The rule of law is part of what makes our democracy great. There have been around forty-three transitions of power in the course of presidential elections, for example, and every single one has been peaceful -- even when it seems the stakes couldn't be higher. Americans recognize that elections have consequences, and that we will nearly always have another opportunity to put good leaders in office.

Tuesday night's travesty on the floor of the Texas Senate went beyond normal electoral consequences, and does enormous damage to the spirit of respectful, measured (albeit rarely entirely reasonable) deliberation that governs the second-most populous state in the Union.

Some have argued that the Lieutenant Governor can be forgiven for distorting the Senate's rules Tuesday because it was such an emotional topic. I could not disagree more.

Read why below the jump.

There's More... :: (0 Comments, 1311 words in story)

Tomorrow: Rally for Texas Gun Sense

by: John Woods

Thu Apr 04, 2013 at 03:41 PM CDT

(Join Texas Gun Sense for a rally tomorrow at the Capitol and urge our lawmakers to pass sensible reforms that will make our communities safer. - promoted by Katherine Haenschen)

rally posterSenator Ted Cruz is threatening to filibuster universal background checks. For some reason, he thinks criminals should be able to avoid background checks simply by going to gun shows -- or even certain websites!

This occurs even after a poll showing that 78% of Texans support universal background checks. By the way, that 78% includes a majority of Tea Party members.

So we have to ask ourselves, whom are our lawmakers working for? The gun manufacturers? Or us, their constituents? Do they think we've already forgotten about Newtown?

That's why we're rallying this Saturday, from 1 to 2pm on the South Steps of the Capitol. And we need you to join us.

Read more below the jump about why this is so important.

There's More... :: (0 Comments, 172 words in story)

Democratic Chair Schedules "Guns in College Classrooms" Bill for Hearing Over Spring Break

by: John Woods

Fri Mar 08, 2013 at 02:24 PM CST

(This is critical. We must let Rep. Joe Pickett know that the Guns on Campus bill should not have a hearing during spring break, when students are least able to weigh in.   - promoted by Katherine Haenschen)

It happens like clockwork. Students leave for spring break, and the Legislature schedules a hearing for bills which would force colleges and universities to allow students to carry guns in classrooms.

I know about the dangers of guns in classrooms first-hand. I lost my girlfriend, Maxine Turner, at Virginia Tech, nearly six years ago. She never even saw her killer enter the room.

This legislation is part of an ideological agenda having nothing to do with campus safety. Worse, it's being done despite long-standing objections from Virginia Tech survivors, UT Tower shooting survivors, Texas police chiefs, students, parents, faculty members, and university administrators.

It's also being done against the explicit recommendation of the Virginia Tech Review Panel, the non-partisan group of experts appointed to study the Virginia Tech tragedy.

These bills are about one thing: selling guns to college students. And unfortunately, despite the objections of the Sandy Hook families and the Newtown superintendent of schools, the gun manufacturers are winning.

This week we learned that a hearing on the legislation had been scheduled over spring break, when most University of Texas students are out of town. This is not unusual; in the past, the hearing has been scheduled over spring break to prevent students from testifying.

But what is unusual is the person doing it. The chairman of the Texas House committee hearing campus carry is Joe Pickett, a Democrat from El Paso. He's one of only two Democrats on the committee (the other being Philip Cortez from San Antonio). Students for Gun-Free Schools Texas has been trying to get Chairman Pickett to reschedule the hearing, but so far he has refused to move it.

Our hopes of defeating this legislation will diminish drastically if Chairman Pickett calls a vote on the campus carry bills. We cannot beat it in the Texas House, and Senator Birdwell claims he has the votes he needs to pass it out of the Senate.

We Need Your Help:

Contact Chairman Pickett and ask him to please postpone the hearing until after spring break, to ensure that the college students, faculty, and staff impacted by the bill can weigh in.

Capitol Office: (512) 463-0596
Click Here to Email Chairman Pickett

Chairman Pickett is a good lawmaker, but he needs to understand that this legislation is being passed at the expense of students, not for their benefit. He should focus instead on popular policies like universal background checks, which 78% of Texans support (including 61% who strongly support the policy).

If "campus carry" becomes the law in Texas, it'll only further empower the gun manufacturers: they'll have a new market for firearms sales, even as more people are killed by firearms, and they'll re-invest that blood money into working against broadly-supported policies like universal background checks.

Discuss :: (1 Comments)

President Obama's plan for gun violence prevention

by: John Woods

Wed Jan 16, 2013 at 02:42 PM CST

(Virginia Tech alumnus, UT graduate student and founder of Students for Gun-Free Schools Texas John Woods weighs in on President Obama's announcement today. - promoted by Katherine Haenschen)

Almost six years ago, I lost my girlfriend, Maxine Turner, in the worst school shooting in American history. Yesterday, she would have turned twenty-eight. Some have said she was "in the wrong place at the wrong time." But she wasn't. She was in a classroom -- the right place.

Maxine's killer, Seung-Hui Cho, was the one in the wrong place at the wrong time. And over the last several years I watched as, time after time, his rights were given more weight than those of anyone else -- more than Max's right to a safe classroom, more than your right to walk down the street without feeling the need to carry a firearm, more even than the American people's right to keep guns out of the hands of known criminals and terrorists.

This morning, President Obama presented his plan for reducing gun violence in America. It respects and supports the Second Amendment (as do I, a concealed carry licensee), ensuring that upstanding, law-abiding citizens continue to have access to firearms, while also keeping weapons designed for hunting people out of the hands of known criminals.

Read more below the jump.

There's More... :: (1 Comments, 708 words in story)

After Sandy Hook, Demand Universal Background Checks

by: John Woods

Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 01:01 PM CST

(An important guest post from John Woods. Please let the Austin City Council and Travis Co. Commissioners know how you feel about guns being sold in our public facilities without background checks. - promoted by Katherine Haenschen)

What happened last month in Connecticut was terrifying. Even more terrifying are the calls from Texas elected officials to arm teachers. The gun sellers' lobby will do anything it can to sell more guns, even profiting off of the deaths of children - and putting more students at risk in the process.

I witnessed this shameless profiteering first-hand after my girlfriend died at Virginia Tech almost six years ago. And that's why I need to ask for your help this year, for the people of Newtown.

Sign our petition to the County Commissioners and City Council asking them to stop allowing gun shows in our public facilities.

In the past, we've campaigned to keep guns off campus. That's not enough. Forty percent of gun sales in the U.S. involve no background check. We need to fix that.

We want to draw attention to the issue here in Texas. One way is to persuade Austin and Travis County to ban gun shows on city and county property. If we are successful, we believe other counties and cities will follow suit. Too many unlicensed sales happen at these gun shows. That means no background checks.

Let the County Commissioners and City Council know how you feel.

We need to send a message to the State of Texas that we the people demand universal background checks. Background checks should be mandatory on all firearm sales, especially at gun shows on public property.

Want to do more? Sign our new petition for gun-free schools. And consider sharing this post on Facebook!

Discuss :: (0 Comments)

Travis Precinct 2 Constable Candidate a Far Right Extremist on Handguns

by: John Woods

Mon Feb 06, 2012 at 10:12 AM CST

(The "Guns in Schools" bill has been a major issue for many of us here at BOR, due in no small part to our strong ties to the UT community. Thanks to founder of Students for Gun Free Schools Texas and multiple-time "Best of Austin" Chronicle award winner John Woods for this post.   - promoted by Katherine Haenschen)

Over the last two legislative sessions, I organized students against bills which would have forced colleges and universities to allow guns in classrooms. I did so because I lost people close to me in the Virginia Tech shooting, and grew tired of lawmakers exploiting our tragedy to promote a political agenda having nothing to do with campus safety.

We won that fight, in no small part because of people like Chief Acevedo and Constable Bruce Elfant, as well as all the other members of law enforcement who oppose arming college students.

So it was with great concern that I learned Michael Cargill is running for Travis County Constable, Precinct 2.

There are a number of good things I can say about Mike. He is hard-working, warm, and intelligent. He holds to his convictions.

But Mike Cargill was also one of the chief voices lobbying for passage of the "guns in classrooms" bills.

These bills were about opening a new market for firearms sales and concealed handgun licensing classes - and Mr. Cargill was one of those who stood to gain a great deal from that market. You see, Mr. Cargill earns his living at least in part by running CHL Class Austin, which - among other things - markets CHL classes to college students [2] [3].

The Twitter feed for Mr. Cargill's business - which may also be his personal feed - offers some additional hints about his beliefs. It seems that Mike Cargill not only supports guns in classrooms, but also guns in bars.

And on July 26th, Cargill wrote, "Rep. Ron Paul of Texas introduced all three bills in the US Congress....We salute you Sir [sic]," referring to legislation which would (1) force the FAA to allow commercial airline pilots to carry guns, (2) repeal the Gun-Free School Zones Act of 1990, and (3) repeal the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act (which instituted federal background checks).

Cargill believes in a Wild West version of Texas that no longer exists. Guns should be readily available to everyone, without background checks, for them to carry anywhere they want. One has to ask: if Michel Cargill believes these things, what would his role be as a member of law enforcement?

I worry that Cargill, if elected, will use his office to promote his own business. I also worry that his motivation for running for this position is to give himself a megaphone through which to broadcast his beliefs about guns.

I ask the Democratic voters of Precinct 2 to take a good hard look at the candidates before primaries come around. Ask hard questions. Make sure that the person you elect is a person who represents your beliefs - and the beliefs of Texans.

Discuss :: (7 Comments)

Students for Gun-Free Schools releases endorsement information for UT campus-wide elections

by: John Woods

Mon Mar 01, 2010 at 06:01 PM CST

This year, The Daily Texan asked every candidate in the University of Texas student elections for his or her position on the issue of guns in classrooms.

The NRA has worked hard to make keeping schools free of guns appear to be a partisan issue, but the Texan's fearlessness in asking about the issue in its endorsements demonstrates that student leaders aren't buying it. More tellingly, only two candidates are listed as "in favor" of guns in classrooms.

Indeed, with complete confidence that students will vote for leaders who are opposed to guns in classrooms, Students for Gun-Free Schools -- a student organization at UT and a nation-wide non-profit -- released a record of candidates' positions on the issue, as well as endorsement statements.

This time last year, there were two bills in the Texas Legislature that would have allowed students to carry guns in classrooms. Both bills were ultimately caught in the Texas House, after one (SB 1164) passed the Senate, in part because of the time and energy spent by student leaders on the issue.

Although Students for Gun-Free Schools was created as a response to such bills, the organization pursues other strategies for preventing campus violence as well. "Our focuses are access to mental health, and various measures which can keep at-risk students from falling through the cracks," said SGFS's Southwestern University chapter president.

The organization's statewide director, John Woods, had this to say: "There's not a lot of violence on college campuses, and we'd like to keep it that way. But over thirty thousand people are killed every year by guns -- that's more than terrorism worldwide most years. We have a responsibility to make students aware of these issues."

Volunteers with SGFS have also put together resolutions against guns in classrooms and in favor of closing the gun show loophole. They plan to introduce these at some precinct meetings Tuesday, in an attempt to unify the Texas Democratic Party around common sense public safety issues.

"Our biggest obstacle right now is getting the word out about our organization," said Woods. "There are so many troubling things happening in Texas that sometimes keeping our classrooms safe gets pushed to the back of the line. Students know about what we're doing, but parents generally don't."

Campus-wide elections begin Tuesday at 9 AM and end Wednesday at 5 PM. Voting may be done online at utsg.org, or at computers on campus.

Discuss :: (0 Comments)

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