VIEWPOINT: Should Texas college students remain unarmed and vulnerable?
Thursday, 21 August 2008
To Austin and Back
Currently, concealed handguns are not allowed on Texas college and university campuses. I believe that law should be changed.
Mass murders on the campuses of Virginia Tech University and Northern Illinois University would have resulted in fewer lives lost had a person with a license to carry a concealed handgun been on the scene.
In an effort to prevent such a senseless tragedy here in Texas like those which occurred in Virginia and Illinois, I will introduce a bill that will allow people who are licensed to carry a concealed weapon to do so on a college campus.
At first blush, the idea of weapons on college campuses may conjure up visions of a university campus filled with pistol-packing students, but this would not be the case.
Because most college students are 17, 18, 19 or 20 years old, and because only persons who are 21 years of age or older may be licensed to carry a concealed weapon in Texas, very few college students would be eligible to carry a weapon on campus, and those who are would have to be trained and licensed before they could carry one.
There are a couple of exceptions to the age rule. Honorably discharged or active duty military may be licensed to carry a handgun without regard to age.
When the Texas Legis-lature passed the concealed handgun bill in 1995, the bill’s opponents (and I heard from many of them) believed sincerely that the passage of a right-to-carry bill would return Texas to the wild, wild west, including shootouts at four-way stop sign intersections and blood in our streets.
Although I listened to them, I disagreed, and I am happy to report that none of their predictions has come to pass. As of Dec. 31, 2007, the Texas Department of Public Safety listed 288,909 active license holders, which means that only 1.2 percent of the state’s population is licensed to carry. This group appears to be very law-abiding.
In 2007, for example, more than 90,000 Texans were issued a concealed handgun license. Rigorous state and federal background checks and extensive training administered through DPS have kept revocations at a minimum.
It also is interesting to note that the minimum age requirement will limit the number of people who could legally carry a gun on a college campus. Only 5 percent of the 90,000 licenses issued in 2006-2007 were to persons between the ages of 21 to 25, the only age group representing traditional college-age students.
If you factor in the number of licensees who are not in college and the number of university and college campuses in Texas, it is clear that our state’s institutions of higher education would not be filled with gun-toting students, nor are they in the 23 states that allow adults licensed to carry a gun to do so on college campuses.
As the father of a college-age son, I am comfortable with the idea of his attending classes where some of his professors and fellow classmates might be carrying a gun. One of them could possibly save his life.
Texas State Sen. Jeff Wentworth (R-San Antonio) represents District 25, which includes part of Bexar County. He can be reached via e-mail at jeff.wentworth@senate. state. tx.us.