Campus remains gun-free
The ‘Campus Gun’ bill withered in committee and ultimately failed to be enacted into law.
Senate Bill 1164, which passed in both chambers of state congress, would have allowed concealed handguns on public university campuses except at sporting events and polling stations on election day.
Lobbied for by the National Rifle Association, SB 1164 was co-authored by Craig Estes, R-Wichita Falls, and quickly reopened the national debate on gun control.
Rep. Garnet Coleman, D-Houston, whose district encompasses the UH campus and surrounding areas, said he would continue to oppose any measure that allows guns on campuses because it could ‘enhance the possibility of mishaps.’
UH bans the possession of firearms under its own Disciplinary Code – Section 3.13.
State laws, which supersede rules established by school leadership, would force UH to change its official position on campus firearms.
‘Some laws are up for interpretation,’ Associate Dean of Students Kamran Riaz said. ‘When the state passes a law, we share it with our attorneys and we may have to modify our student life policies.’
Universities are traditionally divided on social issues, and gun control is no exception.
‘We call this a gun-free campus,’ said Frank Thomas, founder of the group Students for Personal Safety. ‘But anyone who has seen the crime alerts knows it isn’t.’
Thomas also said fears of a sudden rise in gun violence are unfounded.
‘[Concealed Handgun License] holders are less likely to commit violence than unregistered criminals. There won’t be a flood of guns on campus,’ he said.
Despite the assurances of handgun supporters, some students say allowing even more guns on college campuses doesn’t make them feel safe. Media production junior AmberAtashzay said there are certain people who should never be allowed carry guns.
‘I wish there was some sort of psychological test you had to pass,’ she said.
One of the bill’s most vocal sponsors, Sen. Jeff Wentworth, R-San Antonio, said, ‘[The] bill is a matter of personal safety.’
With more than 300,000 handgun permits approved in Texas, Coleman said this is nothing more than pure political pandering.
‘These issues exist to keep the gun rights movement alive,’ he said. ‘It will be back.’
The state Legislature is scheduled to reconvene in January 2011.