A bill expected to soon be signed by Texas Governor Greg Abbott would allow gun owners in the state to legally carry handguns while in dorms, classrooms and other buildings on public university campuses.
While 15 states have introduced bills allowing guns on college campuses this year, Texas is the only one so far to have moved the measure to a governor’s desk.
As it stands, the bill has gone through a series of amendments to make it to the governor. A blanket prohibition of guns on campus was removed and the penalty for people who accidentally carry a gun onto a section of campus where guns are still banned was reduced.
While the bill does offer much for gun-rights supporters, they would have liked to see additional points added. Private schools are completely exempt from the bill, and leaders on public campuses have the ability to create gun-free zones, writes Ashby Jones for The Wall Street Journal.
It “is an excellent first step,” said gun-rights group Students for Concealed Carry, in a statement. “We are looking forward to the next few years…[in which] we will work to finish the job and ensure licensed, law-abiding adults aren’t prohibited from defending themselves simply because they chose to pursue higher education.”
Meanwhile, Democrats and advocacy groups have continued to fight any such “campus carry” legislation for a number of years now, with at least one group, the Campaign to Keep Guns Off Campus, being created specifically with the goal of lobbying against this type of law.
“We find it disheartening that many in the legislature continue to turn a deaf ear to the wishes of higher education officials, faculty, students, parents and campus law enforcement, who together made it crystal clear that they didn’t want guns on college campuses,” Andy Pelosi, executive director of the campaign, said in a statement following the law’s approval Sunday night.
College administrators have also expressed their concerns, arguing that allowing loaded firearms could put an end to classroom debates and increase the suicide rate on campuses statewide.
However, a number of lawmakers have countered by suggesting that the measure would reduce the number of sexual assaults on campus.
Lawmakers in Texas recently approved a bill that allows handguns to be carried openly in the streets. The measure is also on its way to Abbott’s desk, where it is expected to be signed, in a complete reversal of a ban dating back to the post-Civil War era.