In the wake of Rick Perry’s July 8 announcement that he will not seek a fifth term as Texas Governor, many gun rights advocates wonder whether Texas’ longest serving governor forsook their cause in favor of legislation intended to elevate his status on the national stage. Perry’s announcement came 2,254 days after he first voiced support for allowing licensed concealed carry on Texas college campuses (a position he restated as recently as January 22 of this year) and less than seven days after the violent kidnapping and sexual assault of a University of Texas student in the school’s West Campus neighborhood.
Madison Welch, Texas legislative director for Students for Concealed Carry, explained supporters’ frustration, stating,“Whenever there is a campus shooting, Governor Perry is front and center, voicing his support for concealed carry on campus. But when he has a chance to throw his political weight behind an actual bill or add the issue to a special session, he’s nowhere to be found.” Explaining how the July 1 kidnapping and sexual assault of a University of Texas student added to this frustration, Welch said, “This crime occurred less than two miles from the Texas Governor’s Mansion, in a neighborhood populated almost exclusively by college students who pay a premium to live close enough to the UT campus to walk to class. Current law not only leaves students defenseless in class; it leaves them defenseless on their daily commutes through the very neighborhood where this crime occurred. Whether they’re walking to a lab at two in the afternoon or returning from the campus library at two in the morning, they are at the mercy of any lunatic or criminal wishing to do them harm.”
When Governor Perry called a special session of the Texas Legislature immediately following the 2013 regular session, campus carry advocates hoped he might add their issue to the agenda. Now, as the clock ticks down on the second special session of the 83rd Texas Legislature, both time and hope are running out. Welch commented, “I don’t see why he’s willing to get behind so many other controversial issues but not this one. Why is it such a stretch to say that the same trained, licensed, carefully screened adults—age 21 and above—who are allowed to carry a concealed handgun at a movie theater on Friday, a shopping mall on Saturday, and church on Sunday should be allowed to do so in a college classroom on Monday?”
In Kansas, a newly enacted a law will allow firearms in campus buildings starting in four years. The legislature of Illinois successfully overrode the veto of Governor Quinn to finally bring concealed carry permits to the state of Lincoln, and in Colorado, Students for Concealed Carry and supporters of our cause successfully beat back a provision that would have stripped students of their right to self-defense on campus. More broadly, firearms companies are beginning to leave states that pass restrictive firearms laws in favor of states which protect our natural rights. Passing strong protections allowing licensed, law-abiding citizens to carry concealed firearms on college campuses will not only demonstrate the legislature’s commitment to securing the rights of Texas citizens, but will also bolster the state’s business-friendly reputation as firearm companies choose their new home.