A final House approval on Sunday sent a weaker version of the campus carry bill to Gov. Greg Abbott’s desk.
Intended to extend gun rights to concealed handgun license holders, Senate Bill 11 (SB 11) passed in the House with a vote of 98 to 47. The final version of SB 11 passed in the Senate a day before. Governor Abbott has stated he would sign into law a campus carry bill.
“Texas has got to get past its obsession with guns and start placing its resources on our students and institutions,” said Rep. Sylvester Turner, D-Houston. “This should not be the banner headline from this legislative session.”
The chamber echoed with several other democratic pleas to stop legislators from passing the bill on to the governor’s desk. Rep. Allen Fletcher, R-Cypress has been a vocal supporter of the bill’s intention to extend Second Amendment rights to the campuses of public and private universities.
Under current law, concealed handguns licenses (CHL) can only be held by Texas citizens over the age of 21. These citizens must complete over 4 hours of training to obtain their CHL.
“The idea that this bill will result in any increase in violence is unfounded,” Fletcher said.
SB 11 almost succumbed to a key midnight deadline last Tuesday when debate was stalled. Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer, D-San Antonio, raised a third point of order on the bill 30 minutes before midnight.
House members struck a deal, and as a result the Democrats voluntarily pulled their 100 amendments from the bill after Republicans agreed to allow for university officials to create “gun-free zones” on campuses.
House Democrats used various tactics to stifle a floor vote on SB 11 prior to its introduction. In the meanwhile, House Republicans already had an agreement signed by 25 House members that would cut off debate should the Democrats continue pursuing time-wasting tactics.
“We don’t need guns to feel safe,” said Rep. Terry Canales, D-Edinburg. “My community does not want this.”
Several Texas State officials have expressed their opposition to campus carry, including the Office of the President.
According to a Mar. 4 University Star article, Texas State officials have estimated the implementation of campus carry would cost the university $408,516 in security improvements if the bill passes, said Bill Nance, vice president for finance and support services.
University Police Chief Ralph Meyer wrote a fiscal note that included a proposed budget detailing what the University Police Department (UPD) would need if the bill passes, Nance said.
University Police Sergeant Alexander Villalobos said UPD officers will more than likely receive specified training concerning concealed handguns if SB 11 becomes law. Villalobos predicts there will be additional education and communications components to help UPD and university officials better understand the provisions of the campus carry bill.
In regard to how campus carry might change the climate of Texas State, Villalobos said there are a lot of factors that affect the environment of a university and the effects SB 11 could have are unclear.
Villalobos said UPD has had several discussions across the board with other law enforcement in regard to campus carry.
“As a law enforcement officer, we look at from a broad perspective,” Villalobos said. “We will uphold the law if it passed as is, and we will do it diligently and as effectively that we can with the resources we have.”