AUSTIN (KXAN/AP) — The Texas Senate gave final approval Thursday morning to a bill allowing guns into college classrooms. The bill passed on a party-line vote 20 to 11. Senate Bill 11 would allow concealed handgun license- holders to carry weapons into classrooms and dorms. However, this would only impact public universities.
During five hours of debate Wednesday, almost two dozen amendments offered by Democrats failed. At one point, they tried to make it so the student body could vote on allowing guns or not. The campus carry bill now moves on to the GOP-controlled Texas House, where it’s expected to pass.
“More students have an opportunity to participate, also, in making a decision as to whether or not we should have carry,” Sen. Royce West, D-Dallas.
“I’m not going to have a state constitution or United States constitutional right subject to a student body vote,” said Sen. Brian Birdwell, R-Granbury.
Birdwell’s plan mandates allowing concealed carry at public universities. Private schools could still ban guns.
At least 20 states allow some form of so-called “campus carry.”
Supporters say the proposal will help protect students. Opponents, including most student groups and key leaders of Texas’ top universities, say the bill would make campuses less safe.
A separate bill that cleared the Senate earlier in the week lets Texans with gun licenses openly carry firearms in most places, except for college campuses.
Meanwhile, the University of Texas System has looked at how it would impact its campuses, and future students will help foot part of the bill.
During the first six years after being implemented, UT System officials say it would cost them $40 million they would not otherwise spend. Most of that money would be spent on securing health campuses.
Part of that would be spent on 62 new employees, including 40 police officers. Still, none of those would be at UT. As for UT, if a student lives in a dorm and has a concealed handgun license, they would have to pay more to make sure their gun is secure.