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Guns On Texas Campus Gets First Approval

Associated Press

March 18, 2011

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — On her first day of class, 51-year-old Marie Kilian was talking with other students at Sam Houston State University about what to do if a gunman walked in and started shooting.

Run. Tackle him. Throw textbooks. But all of those ideas seemed likely to get her killed.

“I am better able to protect myself in a Walmart than a college classroom,” Kilian said Wednesday, testifying in support of legislation that would allow concealed handgun license holders to carry their weapons in college classrooms and buildings across Texas.

As a license holder, Kilian said she would have another alternative: shoot back.

Kilian was among dozens of students, faculty and administrators who testified before the bill was approved late Wednesday by the state House Homeland Security and Public Safety committee. Split along party lines, Republicans backed the measure on a 5-3 vote. It’s the first step to becoming law.

Supporters consider it a key gun-rights, self-defense measure to prevent violent campus crime such as the Virginia Tech shootings in 2007. Opponents, including some university and law enforcement officials, worry that students and faculty would live in fear of classmates and colleagues, not knowing who might pull a gun over a poor grade, broken romance or drunken argument.

Texas has become a prime battleground for a national campaign to open campuses to firearms because of its gun culture and the size of its university system, which includes 38 public colleges and more than 500,000 students. Similar firearms measures have been proposed in about a dozen other states, but all have faced strong opposition, especially from college leaders.

Texas would become the second state, following Utah, to pass such a broad-based law. Colorado gives colleges the option and several have allowed handguns.

Former Texas A&M University student Adrienne O’Reilly said she was assaulted by a fellow student a couple of blocks off campus. At 5-foot-2, 115-pounds, “a handgun is the only thing that gives me a fighting chance,” said O’Reilly, who now has a concealed handgun license.

“One wrong word could set off a temper,” countered Mickey Gressman, a student at Colin County Community College. “A lot of people say it’s for self-defense. Let’s just fire campus police if they’re not doing their jobs and everybody has to start arming themselves. … More guns is going to cause a lot more trouble.”

The Texas Senate passed a guns-on-campus bill in 2009, but it died without a vote in the House. This year, more than half of the Republican-controlled House’s 150 members have signed on as co-authors of one of the bills, and the issue is supported by Republican Gov. Rick Perry.

The chancellor of the University of Texas system recently wrote Perry and state lawmakers, saying school administrators do not want guns on campus, fearing a rise in college suicides and violent confrontations.

Alice Tripp, lobbyist for the Texas State Rifle Association, which supports the bill, called college campuses “predator magnets” where violent crimes such as rape are underreported.

Until the Virginia Tech killings, the worst college shooting in U.S. history occurred at the University of Texas at Austin, when sniper Charles Whitman went to the top of the administration tower in 1966 and killed 16 people and wounded dozens. Last September, a University of Texas student fired several shots from an assault rifle on a campus street before killing himself.

Texas enacted its concealed handgun law in 1995, allowing people 21 or older to carry weapons if they pass a training course and a background check. The state had 461,724 license holders as of Dec. 31, according to the state Department of Public Safety.

Rep. Joe Driver, R-Garland, author of House Bill 750, said the issue applies mostly to faculty, staff and parents because most students would be too young to qualify for a license. In 2010, only 7 percent of license holders in 2010 were between the ages of 21 and 25, Driver said.

“We’re not talking about every student getting a gun,” Driver said. “I did not file this bill so (license holders) could be heroes in mass-shooting situations. I filed this bill to allow (them) to be able to protect themselves.”

But some lawmakers on the committee noted that students are staying in school longer and getting older, raising the percentage of students who would qualify for licenses.

A University of Texas at Austin student, Katherine Merriweather, said she was nearby when a student carried an assault rifle into a campus library and killed himself last year. The gunman was the only casualty.

“If another student had opened fire as a vigilante, I think the matter would have been worse with so many students in the library,” she said.

Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo testified against the bill, citing the potential for chaos if someone does begin shooting on campus.

“When you think about 21-year-olds, responsibility is the last thing they are thinking about,” Acevedo said. “Common sense says to me that guns on campus, like in bars, is not the right environment.”

Driver’s bill would keep a ban on guns in bars, churches, hospitals or athletic events on college campuses. It also would apply to private universities, but gives give them the option to ban concealed handguns after consulting with students, faculty, parents and law enforcement.

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  • 2012-03-24_12-51-47_281_max50


    over 3 years ago


    sigmachimarine: good points. This is obviously going to be a heavily debated topic in not only law enforcement circles, but school systems as well. Let's hope the decisions made are informed, accurate, and intelligent ones.

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    over 3 years ago


    As a resident and Peace Officer of Texas, I am for this law, armed, responsible citizens can stop an active shooter the same as a uniformed police officer! God Bless Texas!

  • Tlusa_max50


    over 3 years ago


    God bless Texas! I would not have a problem with this at all.

  • In_remembrance_of_oakland_pd_max50_max50_max50_max50_max50


    over 3 years ago


    I would have no problem with this, the number of those that would will be small.

  • Ocp-me_max50


    over 3 years ago


    Chris2022: Theft was not an issue with me carrying. I always carried on my persons, not in a bag or what not. However, I do believe that if one is going to carry on a college campus, then yes, theft is a viable concern. Perhaps the weapons should only be allowed to be carried on one's own person and no where else? Either way, I don't really think there needs to be any advanced training for average concealed carry licensees. The reason is that the basic training should incorporate and emphasize how CCW licensees need to do EVERYTHING the school tells them to do during an active shooter scenario. This allows for optimal protection. The ONLY need for pulling out that gun is IF and WHEN the shooter decides to enter YOUR classroom. At that point it's life or death, not protection of third party... not interferring with law enforcement, just last ditch effort of self preservation. Just my two cents...

  • 2012-03-24_12-51-47_281_max50


    over 3 years ago


    There's still a huge concern of theft and training. Any of these students can shoot at stationary targets (that don't shoot back). Perhaps a required course in dynamic and hostile action based scenarios would prove usefull. Check out 20/20's story a few years ago titled "If I only had a gun". It was a little anti-gun biased, but there were some good points brought up regarding the specific issue of guns on college campuses.

  • Ocp-me_max50


    over 3 years ago


    I guess my last post on this topic didn't post. Anyways, I've been conceal carrying for years on college campus. No biggie, no pissed off tempers, no brawls, no poor campus police encounters, no issues whatsoever. Kind of like what happens when a RESPONSIBLE person carries their weapon RESPONSIBLY. Good law, hope this goes down in the books.

  • Vpsomourningband_max50


    over 3 years ago


    Bottom line: 2nd Ammendment! With all the gun control BS going on the only ones carrying will be LEOs and criminals. Check out what happened in Austrailia for one.

  • Fto_davidson_photo_max50


    over 3 years ago


    May this have the support needed for a win & protect us while we are at our learning institutions too!

  • Beyondthegraceofgodnn8_max50


    over 3 years ago


    I hope this passes. I have never met a CCW permit holder that I didnt like, not because of the permit but because the type of people that get them tend to be very level headed. We have had the permits for 16 years now and it isnt chaos in the street. I dont see that changes by letting people WHO ALREADY HAVE A PERMIT legally carry their gun on campus.

    And to say you cant trust 21 year olds? I turned 21 during the academy. Comments like that make me want to become a certified instructor and do classes at cost.

  • Fallenherobadge-3-1_max50_max50


    over 3 years ago


    Pro's and Con's with this issue. It is and never will be a cut and dry issue. I have a solution that will start getting society back where it should be but I will keep my comments to myself so they will not be twisted.

  • Thinker_max50


    over 3 years ago


    I have mixed feeling on this. Are we back in the Wild Wild West days where everyone needs to be strapped and carrying everywhere they go 24/7? Even then many towns restricted carrying within town limits. On the other hand, crime is what it is and LE has limited resources that are being reduced daily because of our economic crisis.

    Up until recent years I only carried off-duty when I was going somewhere that I felt uncomfortable. Now I carry everywhere except to church, and yes I know many LE carry in church also. I feel if someone is going to take me out in the Lord's house, then so be it and I'm quite sure I will die in peace and be going to a much better place.

    As far as schools, on one hand I like the idea and can see why students would want to carry with all that has happened in schools and on campuses already. On the other, are they really prepared like LE is to actively engage an Active Shooter properly and not injure or kill innocent bystanders/students when all hell breaks loose.

    I'm also concerned about LE response as what happens during an Active Shooter response when LE engages and sees someone with a gun in their hands? How would they know it is a student with a permit or the actual shooter? They do not have the training or experience to know how to react upon seeing LE respond.

    Again I have some serious mixed feelings and think alot of thought concerning the pros and cons should be given to this before granting carry in schools or on campuses...

  • Divas_missy_tina_max50


    over 3 years ago


    as much as I can't stand Charlie Sheen right now, duuhhh, winning!!! but this isn't the first school in Texas to do so. even a grade school is armed and ready because of their highway location and did so immediately after Amish school shooting in Pennsylvania a few years ago.

    the idea: why be sitting ducks when they can actually help de-escalate situation and call parents to tell them their kids are safe instead of a grim call

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    over 3 years ago

  • Justified_max50


    over 3 years ago


    I just turned 21 and for my birthday filed for my CCW here in Florida. It's irresponsible to say that 21 year olds aren't mature enough to carry a weapon when several states allow someone to go to the police academy at 19. Not saying that everyone that age is mature enough, but working in dispatch i've encountered many much older persons who should probably be chaperoned!

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