Texas legislators are under the gun (so to speak), facing a time crunch to pass open carry and campus carry legislation in the next few days before the session expires:
Two bills to expand gun rights that had been expected to fly through the Republican-controlled Texas Legislature have instead hit several snags and will need a big push during this final week of the session if they are to become law.
A so-called campus carry bill, which would allow concealed handguns in college classrooms, cleared the Senate in March and is scheduled for a House vote Tuesday. An open carry bill, which would permit guns to be carried in plain sight most everywhere, passed both chambers in different forms but ran into unexpected turbulence last week as a surprising coalition of Senate liberals and tea party conservatives teamed up for a vote to limit police oversight of the measure.
Both bills now are short on time if they are to be sent to Gov. Greg Abbott, who has pledged to expand gun rights in his first session as chief executive. The regular session ends June 1.
The open carry legislation seems assured of passing, and merely needs to iron out minor differences between House and Senate versions of the legislation in conference to be sent to Governor Abbott’s desk for an assured signature.
Several Texas liberals surprised everyone when they insisted that the open carry bill include an amendment to ensure that open carriers could not be stopped by police to simply see if open carriers have a valid permit. These same legislators were against open carry overall, but insisted that if the bill were going to pass anyway, that the included amendment would prevent law enforcement from stopping minority open carriers without just cause.
Campus carry is facing fierce resistance from a small group of university and law enforcement officials who claim that allowing guns on campus will make colleges and universities more dangerous, and that campus carry will make it harder to recruit top faculty and staff.
There is no hard data to support the anti-campus carry position, I’d suggest that the opposite may in fact be true; the right to carry concealed on campus might appeal to academics who value liberty and who don’t suffer from a crippling case of hoplophobia.
The legislature needs to pass and reconcile all legislation by the end of the week to send it to Governor Abbott’s desk to be signed into law.