The Texas Legislature has passed SB 11, the Campus Carry Bill, and sent the bill on to Governor Greg Abbott for signature. The Senate passed the Conference Committee report on Saturday by a vote of 20-11. The bill cleared the final hurdle with passage in the Texas House by a vote of 98-47. The text of the final version of the bill is attached below.
Pro-gun advocates have worked hard throughout this session to get this bill and open carry passed by the Legislature. Governor Abbott is expected to sign both bills.
Breitbart Texas’ Cassi Pollock reported the Senate’s passage of what many are calling a watered down version of the bill. She reported the bill “gives public universities more authority for where and how concealed handguns are permitted on campus. In addition, private universities would be allowed to opt out of campus carry altogether.”
“Campus carry has proven to be a highly discussed topic this session,” Pollock continued, “and has been met with support and opposition from the two largest public universities in Texas, A&M Chancellor, John Sharp, and UT Chancellor, William McRaven.”
In a compromise move to get the bill passed, the Conference Committee put in a provision to allow individual universities to be able to establish “reasonable rules” and restrictions on where they are carried and how they are stored for reasons of public safety.
The bill was saved on Tuesday night when the House sponsor, State Representative Allen Fletcher (R-Cypress) rescued the bill by getting some compromises added and getting the bill passed before the midnight deadline where it would have otherwise died. Fletcher said he did not want a watered down version of the bill, but said he recognized there were legitimate places where universities would not want guns allowed. Some of those include the National Biocontainment Laboratory in Galveston and other areas where there would be close proximity to an MRI machine.
“The amendment by Chairman Zerwas and I resolved a need for most of the amendments which would have created a patchwork of exemptions in statute regarding prohibitions. By adopting this amendment we saved several hours of debate as we risked passing the deadline. The regent’s two-thirds vote threshold should properly assure the regents will address these prohibitions carefully and with specificity,” said Fletcher.
A student on a public university or college campus would have to be 21 in order to qualify for a concealed carry permit. Open carry on campus will not be allowed under the provisions passed in the open carry legislation.
Fletcher expressed confidence in the students who would have to obtain a concealed license before carrying on campus. “We have seen television ads depicting wild fraternity parties, clubs, and bars; none of which have anything to do with this bill. Students 21 years of age and older have been lawfully and responsibly carrying in Texas for over nineteen years, they’ve been able to carry their concealed handguns in public and on campus grounds but the moment they step foot in an academic building they became criminals,” Fletcher said in a statement obtained by Breitbart Texas. Fletcher praised the efforts of the bill’s author, Senator Brian Birdwell (R-Granbury), for seeing this bill through to passage.
“The bottom line is this: Senate Bill 11 makes concealed carry on Texas college campuses the law of the land, while allowing for very limited, reasonable prohibitions in unique campus locations,” Senator Birdwell said in a Dallas Morning News article.
The bill, after being signed by the Governor, will take effect on August 1, 2016 for all institutions of higher education except for community colleges. The effective date for these campuses is August 1, 2017.