Concealed carry bill for universities filed in Texas House

Joshua Fechter

A freshman representative’s bill gives the Texas Legislature a bill in both houses that would allow concealed firearms on university campuses.

State Rep. Giovanni Capriglione, R-Southlake, filed the bill Thursday, two days after a shooting at Lone Star College-North Harris Campus in Houston injured four people and a week after state Sen. Brian Birdwell, R-Granbury, filed similar legislation in the Texas Senate.

Capriglione said on his Facebook that he believes Texas’ environment for expanding concealed carry has improved and support for such measures enjoys substantial support in the House.

“If the bill makes it to the House floor, I feel confident it passes. It’s not going to be easy, but for the sake of our students, it needs to happen,” Capriglione said on his Facebook page.

Under both bills, higher education institutions could not prohibit gun permit holders from carrying concealed firearms on campus, but would allow private universities and dormitories to decide whether to allow concealed carry on their premises.

At an event held Thursday by the Texas Politics Project at the LBJ School of Public Affairs, both houses’ Higher Education Committee chairmen each said concealed carry legislation is not their top priority for this legislative session.

Kel Seliger, R-Amarillo and chairman of the Senate Higher Education Committee, said he voted for the bill when it was introduced during previous sessions and the bill will receive a hearing in his committee.

“I don’t think [the bill] has some of the harmful effects that people say it does,” Seliger said. “Keep in mind, those people are all going to be over 21-years-old, they will all have had a security check — and a pretty decent one — and some minimum amount of training.” 

Dan Branch, R-Dallas and chairman of the House Higher Education Committee, said he may prefer allowing institutions to decide whether to allow concealed carry rather than issuing a statewide mandate.

“For me, my sense is I’m not sure there’s a need for a one-size-fits-all on this issue,” Branch said.

Some UT officials oppose measures to allow concealed carry on campus. In 2011, UT System Chancellor Francisco Cigarroa sent a letter to Gov. Rick Perry saying that he did not believe allowing concealed weapons on campus would create safer premises. UT System spokeswoman Jenny LaCoste-Caputo said in a Jan. 18 e-mail that Cigarroa’s views have not changed.

In January, President William Powers Jr. co-authored a letter with 10 other university presidents who serve on the executive committee of the Association of American Universities asking President Obama and Congress to take action to prevent gun violence in the U.S., partially by enacting gun control measures.