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lence on college campuses is nuts. Right now, its only the bad guys who have guns on campuses — and there’s some sentiment that if someone would have had a gun, they could have put a stop to the tragedy.”
Senate Education Committee Chairman Dan Patrick, a Houston Republican who has a state concealedhandgun permit, said he plans to hold a hearing on school safety soon after the Legislature convenes in January. And while campus-carry has been debated in the past, he agreed that a broader discussion of safety on school campuses is needed.
“We need to do all we can to ensure that our schools are safe,” he said.
Perry, who has a handgun permit and is a frequent recreational target shooter, escalated the debate Monday by advocating for teachers and school administrators to be allowed to carry properly licensed handguns.
“You should be able to carry your handgun anywhere in this state,” Perry said at a tea party event in North Richland Hills. He qualified that statement by saying the decision should be local and that private property owners should continue to be allowed to impose their own restrictions.
In recent weeks, before the Connecticut shooting, House and Senate members were discussing a variety of gun bills, including the campuscarry measure, allowing handgun licensees to carry guns into private parking lots at plants and job sites, even a proposal to allow the open-carrying of firearms. Most are still in the discussion stage, though legislation is expected to be filed soon on all those measures.
Going somewhat against that tide, state Rep. Eddie Rodriguez, D-Austin, announced plans Tuesday to file a bill imposing more regulation for certain firearms and ammunition. His proposal would ban high-capacity ammunition clips, impose a new training requirement on purchasers of military-style weapons and promote a gun-buyback program with corporate tax credits.
Rodriguez said he supports the Second Amendment but called his proposals “common-sense measures” that could reduce the number of guns on the streets in the hands of people who should not have them.
“Military arms that have nothing to do with self-defense, public safety, sport or any other practical matter that guns may be used for should be regulated,” he said.
In making his announcement, Rodriguez acknowledged, “I’m sure I’ll get plenty of nasty messages about this, but there is nothing that can be said that will mitigate the pain of the last few days, the memory of those innocent children in Newtown, and the need to address the situation here at home before it happens again.”
On Monday, state Rep.elect Jason Villalba, RDallas, announced he will file legislation to allow public school teachers to carry concealed weapons at school. Current law allows a school district to permit concealed handguns for specific personnel, although firearms are otherwise prohibited from school buildings, officials said.
Villalba’s “Protection of Texas Children Act” would permit schools to appoint a member of their faculty as a “school marshal.” With approved training and certification, the marshal could “use lethal force upon the occurrence of an attack in the classroom or elsewhere on campus,” Villalba, a newly elected state representative, said in a statement.
Under current Texas law, school districts can grant written permission for employees to carry firearms on campus. Harrold Independent School District, a district with roughly 100 students along the Texas-Oklahoma border, allows teachers to carry concealed handguns under a so-called “Guardian Plan” established in the wake of the 2007 shooting massacre at Virginia Tech University.
In 2011, there were more than 518,600 active concealed-handgun licensees in Texas.
While some lawmakers questioned privately whether the Connecticut shootings might dampen the chances for passage of liberalized gun-carrying laws in the upcoming session, Whitmire — the longest-serving senator — and other veterans said they expect the opposite will happen.
“Half my committee members carry guns,” Whitmire noted. “There’s very serious concern about safety on our school campuses, and I expect you’ll see that addressed.”
Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson, who authored the 1995 law that established concealed-handgun permits while he was a state senator, said that could mean changes to make Texans and their campuses safer. Under current law, schools, bars, courthouses, jails, polling places and private property where signs are posted are among the few places that licensed handgun owners cannot carry their firearm.
“Times are different now than when (the concealedhandgun license) bill passed,” he said. “There are very few anti-gun legislators still in office.”