WEEK IN REVIEW
COMMITTEE DEBATES GUNS ON CAMPUS
(AUSTIN) — Citizens from across the state turned out for a meeting of the Senate Criminal Justice Committee Tuesday to testify on a bill that would permit concealed carry licensees to be armed on college campuses. The bill by San Antonio Senator Jeff Wentworth would lift the ban at all public colleges, but would permit private institutions to opt out. Wentworth believes Texans have a right to defend themselves wherever they are. "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.
Supporters of the bill agreed with Wentworth, saying that concealed carry license holders are well trained, responsible gun owners, and pose no threat to those around them. Opponents of the bill countered that an armed student body would make campuses more dangerous. Wentworth responded to critics by pointing out similar arguments made against the original legislation to permit concealed carry that passed the Legislature in 1995. Those opposed to the bill then warned that an armed populace could lead to a Wild West mentality, with vigilante justice leading to shootouts in the street. "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." The bill remains pending before the committee.
Thursday, eight senators announced the filing of a resolution that would urge the federal government to uphold its responsibility to secure the Texas-Mexico border. Led by Senator Tommy Williams of the Woodlands, the senators charged Washington is ignoring the danger posed by an unsecured international border. "We want Congress to secure our borders from the drug cartels and the people that are involved in human smuggling and all of the terrible things that are going on in our border region," Williams said.
He is the author of a resolution that would request the federal government to release a cost analysis of how much it would cost to adequately fund border security. The resolution would also send a delegation to Washington to meet with national leaders to emphasize the need for additional money and manpower at the Rio Grande. The resolution will go before the Transportation and Homeland Security Committee for a hearing next week.
Parents concerned about the increasing danger of bullying in public schools attended a Senate Education Committee meeting to support a bill intended to give schools more power in dealing with bullying both on and off campus. The measure by Ft. Worth Senator Wendy Davis, would permit administrators to move a bully into a different class than the victim, and would require notification of bullying to the parents of both the bully and the victim. It would, for the first time, codify the definition of bullying in the discipline section of the Texas education code and would include Internet harassment, or "cyberbullying". Davis believes Texas can lead the nation in making schools safe and comfortable for all children. "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 Monday, March 28 at 1:30 p.m.
Session video and all other webcast recordings can be accessed from the Senate website's Audio/Video Archive.