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Date Created: 12/18/15
Handguns On Texas Campuses A bill (Texas SB 354 sponsored by republican Senator Jeff Wentworth) allowing Texas licensed concealed handgun holders (anyone over 21 with a permit to carry a concealed handgun) to carry their weapons into university buildings, including dormitories is currently before the state legislature. It's already legal for permit holders to bring a gun onto campus grounds. More than half of the members of the Texas House of Representatives have co-authored the bill sponsored by Dallas republican Joe Driver. Texas is one of nine states currently considering campus carry; similar bills are advancing in Arizona, Tennessee, Michigan, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Florida, Nebraska and Mississippi. This is a topic that creates a wealth of emotional opinions on both sides of the issue. News coverage of this normally involves an interview with college students, university leaders and gun owner proponents expressing their opinions. Most of these interviews spend very little time on the facts surrounding concealed carry laws currently in place in various states and crime statistics on college campuses. Current Concealed Carry Laws in the U.S. 48 states have passed laws allowing citizens to carry certain concealed firearms in public, either without a permit or after obtaining a permit from state or local law enforcement. Thirteen states use a single permit to regulate the practices of both concealed and open carry of a handgun. Alaska, Vermont, Arizona, and Wyoming (as of July 1st, 2011) allow residents to carry a concealed firearm without a permit. There is no federal law addressing this issue, so each state has the ability to construct its own laws concerning concealed weapons carry. Handgun Laws on Campus 15 "Right-to-Carry" states leave the decision of concealed carry on college campuses to each individual college or university. Utah is currently the only state that allows concealed handguns on all of its public colleges and universities. This law was passed during the fall semester of 2006. Colorado State University campus in Ft. Collins and in Pueblo has allowed licensed carry since 2003. In 2010 fourteen Colorado community colleges began allowing licensed concealed carry on campus. Currently this brings the total to 26 colleges - a combined 71 campuses- that allow carrying of concealed handguns at the time of this writing. The ambiguity concerning right to carry on a college campus is illustrated by Virginia's law which allows licensed individuals to have a concealed weapon on their person, but revokes this right for students and faculty. As stated by the Virginia Attorney General in opinion No. 05-078, the conclusion which was: "... It is my opinion that the governing boards of Virginia's public colleges and universities may not impose a general prohibition on the carrying of concealed weapons by permitted individuals. Pursuant to specific grants of statutory authority, however, it is my opinion that colleges and universities may regulate the conduct of students and employees to prohibit them from carrying concealed weapons on campus. " Gun Violence on Concealed Carry Campuses There have been no reported incidences of gun violence, including suicides, accidental death or discharge or threats involving an individual with a license to carry on any of these particular campuses. According to the Texas Department of Public Safety, concealed handgun license holders are significantly less likely to commit violent crime than the general public. These are the two statistics available from TDPS on the 1 in 55 Texans with carry licenses vs. Those without: • Five and one half less likely to commit manslaughter • Four times less likely to commit murder. Texas concealed carry licensing process is among the most rigorous in the nation. The current laws on carrying a weapon are also very explicit. It is unlawful for a handgun license holder to carry a handgun on the premises of: • A government court. • A business that derives 51 percent or more of its income from the sale of alcohol for on-premises consumption. • A school or educational institution, high school, collegiate, or professional sporting event or interscholastic event that is taking place. • A hospital or nursing home. • An amusement park. • A place of religious worship. • A polling place on the day of an election. • A meeting of a governing body. • A race track. • A secured area of an airport. • A correctional facility. • A correctional facility or within 1000 feet of such, on the day of an execution. • The property of another after receiving notice that concealed handguns are forbidden on that property. • It is unlawful to possess a firearm in a penal institution. • It is unlawful for a handgun license holder to carry a handgun while intoxicated. • It is unlawful for a handgun license holder to carry a handgun and intentionally fail to conceal the handgun. Sources:Tex. Penal Code § 46.01 et seq. And Tex. Gov't. Code § 411.171 et seq. Even though, based on several recent polls, the legislation to remove restrictions on college campuses is opposed by the majority of Texas citizens, university administrators and college students, SB 354 looks like it has a very good chance of passing and statistics and facts will continue to be hard to come by in the debate. fort collins dui