Texas House panel approves guns on campus bill
(caller.com) AUSTIN — Two days after a knife-wielding attacker wounded more than a dozen people on a Texas college campus, a state House panel voted to allow concealed handgun license holders to carry weapons into college buildings and classrooms. The House Homeland Security and Public Safety Committee pushed the bill up to the full House with a 7-1 vote without debate. Lawmakers had taken public testimony on the measure several weeks ago. On Tuesday, authorities say a man used a razor utility knife to slash 14 people on two floors of the health science building at Lone Star Community College in Cypress.
Gun rights supporters say the bill, by Rep. Allen Fletcher, R-Cypress, is self-defense measure that will help prevent campus shootings and assaults. Opponents argue that allowing guns into campus buildings, particularly classrooms, only increases the chances for violence.
The guns-on-campus measure has been opposed by state universities in the past, and the question erupted into one of the most contentious issues of the 2011 session before it failed despite strong support from groups like the Texas State Rifle Association.
Fletcher's bill gives the state's public universities and colleges a chance to opt out of the provision if they first consult with students, faculty and staff. Private universities could opt in. For campuses that still ban weapons, the bill reduces the penalty for a violation by concealed handgun license holders from a felony to a misdemeanor, a crime that would still cause them to lose their license.