Concealed carry bill withdrawn on Senate floor

Melissa Ayala

Texas Senators were debating the concealed-carry bill Thursday when Sen. Jeff Wentworth, R-San Antonio, temporarily pulled the bill down until Monday.

The bill would allow concealed-handgun license holders to carry guns on Texas college campuses. The decision came after senators asked Wentworth for additional time to look over new amendments and propose the bill to constituents.

“This is a matter of personal protection,” Wentworth said. “The idea that it will result in increased violence is unfounded.”

Wentworth recently accepted an amendment by Sen. Robert Nichols, R-Jacksonville, to exempt primary and secondary school campuses located within universities from the bill.

Sen. Eddie Lucio Jr., D-Brownsville, who was originally one of 21 members in favor, said he would not be able to support the bill unless he had the weekend to propose it to constituents, some of whom expressed concern over Nichols’ amendment.

Sen. Rodney Ellis, D-Houston, opposed the bill and said there are too many factors, such as alcohol and the danger of suicides, that can create a “toxic mix” if guns are allowed on campus.

“Twenty-three states have tabled bills exactly like this,” Ellis said.

Ellis pointed out lawmakers in conservative Southern states such as Mississippi and Alabama opposed similar legislation.

“Senate Bill 354 is a bad solution to a serious problem. Again, it makes us feel like we’ve gotten tough — deputizing students — but the fact is that the universities don’t want it, and law enforcement doesn’t want it because they know it will not make our campuses safer,” he said. “It might make a great campaign mailer, but it will absolutely not make students safer.”

But Wentworth said he is confident the bill will pass next week.