March 30, 2009
By Dave Montgomery
The Fort Worth Star-Telegram
AUSTIN — Texas universities are firing back against a bill that would permit students to carry handguns on campus.
Rep. Joe Driver, R-Garland, said his bill would be limited to students 21 and older. But campus police chiefs and administrators say the idea of permitting firepower on campus is a potential threat to student safety.
"As one faculty person told me, 'Do you think I want to pass out those F’s and D’s with somebody in the classroom having a gun?’ " said Rep. Lon Burnam, D-Fort Worth.
Burnam is a member of the House Public Safety Committee, which will consider the legislation at a hearing Monday.
The April 2007 massacre of 32 people at Virginia Tech by a mentally disturbed student ignited a nationwide call for greater safety at colleges. Both sides in the debate over Driver’s bill cite that tragedy in making their case. . .
Organizations representing campus police departments and the more than 40 independent colleges and universities in Texas have registered opposition to the bill.
Texas Christian University, Baylor University, Southern Methodist University and the University of Texas System expressed opposition or serious concerns in statements to the Star-Telegram on Friday. . .
"We have serious concerns about allowing concealed weapons on a university campus," SMU said in a statement, citing its "long tradition as a weapons-free campus." The statement also noted that SMU hosts frequent events with "large numbers of children in attendance."
Read the full story.
# # #