The Texas House has moved the Lone Star State a large step forward in the Republican-led battle to require college campuses to allow students to “pack heat” at school.
By a vote of 101-47, the House passed preliminary approval legislation just minutes before a midnight deadline would have postponed passage of the bill for another year, The Daily Caller reports.
When Democrats dropped over 100 amendments they had tried to attach to the bill in hopes of defeating it, the House action became possible. But two amendments that made it through may weaken the bill and create difficulties in the Texas Senate before the bill can be passed on to Republican Gov. Greg Abbott, who has indicated he will sign it, the Daily Caller said.
To become law this year, the bill must be signed by June 1.
The two Democrat-sponsored amendments retained allow colleges to designate “gun free” zones and applies the legislation to private, as well as to public, colleges, the Dallas Morning News reported.
Republican Rep. Allen Fletcher, who sponsored the House bill, said, “[c]ampuses are not crime-free zones,” CBS News reported.
Democrats hoped that the amendments, especially the one including private schools, which many Republicans oppose, would make final passage more difficult.
“Now that all colleges and universities are required to carry on campus, tomorrow morning there are going to be a number of very powerful people who are going to say, ‘We better get sensible, practical and realistic about our gun policies,'” said Democratic Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer of San Antonio, the Dallas Morning News reported.
However, Fletcher told the Morning News that he did not believe the amendments would “cause this bill to not be implemented around the state.”
The Daily Caller said that final House approval of the bill “appears inevitable.”
The bill’s passage notably was opposed by William McRaven, the former Navy SEAL admiral who oversaw the raid that killed Osama bin Laden and now serves as University of Texas System chancellor. McRaven argued that concealed weapons would make campuses “less safe,” intimidate other students and teachers, and harm faculty recruiting, the Daily Caller said.
The Houston Chronicle estimated that requiring campuses to implement the legislation could cost more than $47 million over six years, the Daily Caller reported.
University of Dallas President Tom Keefe, who opposes the inclusion of private schools like his own, told the Dallas Morning News, “The only people I want having guns are police and the bad guy. I don’t want police to have to sort out who is John Wayne coming to the rescue.”
If passed, the law, which would go into effect in September, would add dormitories, classrooms and cafeterias to areas where students could carry guns, but not hospitals, bars or sporting events, the Dallas Morning News reported.