March 17, 2015
By Lauren McGaughy
A bill that would allow concealed handgun license holders to carry their weapons on college campuses is not expected to be debated in the Senate Tuesday as originally planned.
Senate Bill 11, by Granbury Republican Brian Birdwell, is opposed by many higher education leaders including new University of Texas System Chancellor Adm. William McRaven, the former head of U.S. Special Operations Command.
Under current law, Texans older than age 21 who pass a background check, take a class and shooting test can carry handguns concealed after properly licensed. But there are a number of locations that bar concealed carry. Public colleges and universities can currently opt into allowing guns on campus, but only Texas A&M has instituted such a program in the last 20 years.
The proposal is nearly guaranteed to pass, since it boasts a super-majority of 19 co-sponsors in the upper chamber. It passed easily by a partisan vote of 7-2 out of committee, where Birdwell and other supporters rejected Democrats‘ calls to include a provision allowing public universities to opt out of the law if it passes.
On Monday, the Senate passed a bill allowing concealed handgun license holders to openly carry handguns, which has been illegal in Texas since Reconstruction. It is currently legal to openly carry long arms without a license, but to carry a handgun concealed, a license is required.
Sen. Kirk Watson, D-Austin, said debate on the campus carry bill was delayed because there were inaccuracies on the witness list that came out of committee. Watson said some witnesses listed as “for” the bill were actually only speaking “on” the legislation, which if submitted to the full Senate with such mistakes would have handed senators opposed to the bill to introduce a point of order and delay debate, at least for a day.
“I think it’s important to have everything right, especially with dealing with an issue this controversial and charged,” said Watson.
In order to fix the witness list, a vote was delayed for one day. The full Senate will likely debate campus carry Wednesday.