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March 22, 2011 (512) 463-0300

BILL WOULD PERMIT CONCEALED HANDGUNS ON CAMPUS

Senator Jeff Wentworth of San Antonio
San Antonio Senator Jeff Wentworth says Texans lawfully licensed to carry a concealed handgun should be allowed to carry on college campuses.

(AUSTIN) — Public colleges and universities could no longer ban Texans with concealed carry licenses from being armed on campus under a bill before the Senate Criminal Justice Committee on Tuesday. Senator Jeff Wentworth of San Antonio says the current prohibition against concealed carry on campuses could put students and faculty at the mercy of a madman. "This law drafted to create gun-free zones has the effect of disarming the law-abiding citizen, leaving him or her vulnerable to the deranged criminal who enters a campus with a gun and opens fire," he said.

His bill, SB 354, would prohibit public institutions from banning concealed carry licensees from carrying on campus. Private colleges and universities could opt out and continue to ban concealed carry. Handguns would continue to be banned at school sporting events, campus bars and campus churches. Schools could also set rules and standards for storage of licensed handguns in dormitories.

Wentworth says media reports around this issue are misleading, implying the bill would lead to masses of armed undergrads. Current state law requires that concealed licensees be at least 21 years old. Since most traditional students are younger than that, Wentworth said his bill will primarily impact adult faculty, staff and parents. Wentworth likened current criticism to the criticism surrounding the original legislation to permit concealed carry in 1995, where opponents worried the law would lead to shootouts in the streets. "We've seen none of those predictions come true," he said. "In fact, the crime rate in Texas has decreased in the last 15 years."

Senator Wendy Davis of Fort Worth
Senator Wendy Davis of Fort Worth laid out a bill before the Senate Education Committee intended to reduce bullying at school and on the Internet.

The Senate Education Committee Tuesday considered a bill aimed at preventing bullying both at school and on the Internet. Senator Wendy Davis of Ft. Worth said that school districts lack the tools they need in order to adequately deal with the problem of bullying. She cited a 2009 survey that showed that one in five students in the state report being bullied, and that bullying has caused four Texas students to commit suicide since 2009. The Internet, said Davis, is only making the problem worse. "Modern technology has allowed bullies to be anonymous," she said, "emboldening students and allowing them to become more malicious."

Her bill, SB 242, would, for the first time, include a definition of bullying in the discipline section of the state education code, and would expand the definition to include Internet harassment, called "cyberbullying". The bill would permit administrators to move a bully to a different class or even a different campus if requested by the victim, and it is determined that it is the best course of action for the students. Schools would have to get parents involved, contacting the parents of both the bully and the victim, and would have to report incidences of bullying to the Texas Education Agency. "SB 242 protects every child from being bullied, and would make Texas the state with one of the most comprehensive anti-bullying statutes in the nation," said Davis.

The Senate will reconvene Wednesday, March 23 at 11 a.m.


Session video and all other webcast recordings can be accessed from the Senate website's Audio/Video Archive.

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