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Texas Senate Passes Watered Down Campus Carry Bill

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A bill in the Texas Legislature that would allow college students with a concealed handgun license (CHL) to carry their firearms on campus was passed in the state Senate on Saturday. Senate Bill 11 continues to move forward in the final days of the 84th session — but as a watered down version.

On Thursday, the Senate requested that the bill be sent to a conference committee, where members from both chambers of the legislature met and resolved their differences on the measure.

The conference committee report, which was not distributed until after midnight on Friday, 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.

Further amendments have been also been adopted, such as allowing public universities to enforce “gun-free zones” and exempting health facilities on campus from the measure. When Sen. Brian Birdwell originally filed the bill in January, similar amendments were proposed, but were ultimately fended off by Birdwell.

Campus carry has proven to be a highly discussed topic this session, 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.

On Saturday afternoon, the Senate approved the final version of SB 11 with a 20-11 vote.

The House will vote on the measure Sunday. If passed, the bill will be sent to Gov. Abbott, who claimed in February, “he would sign any bill that expands gun rights on campus, whether university administrators can opt out or not,” as reported by the Texas Tribune.

Assuming that the House passes SB 11 and Gov. Abbott signs it, campus carry would take effect on Aug. 1, 2016 for state universities. Junior and community colleges would be allowed an additional year to set gun rules.

Cassi Pollock was previously a policy intern in the Texas House.


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