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Campus gun law gains momentum
by Bill Clough
May 14, 2011 | 1398 views | 0 0 comments | 5 5 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Sarah Luther
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A handful of students attending Coastal Bend College have mixed emotions about a proposed Austin bill that would allow concealed handguns on campus.

On Monday, May 10, the state Senate passed such a bill sponsored by Sen. Jeff Wentworth (R-San Antonio) by a vote of 19-12.

The Legislation, SB354, would allow persons with a concealed-handgun license (CHL) to carry their weapons onto university and college campuses.

“The consequences are good and bad,” reflected 19-year-old freshman Sarah Luther of Sinton. “Bad people do bad things. I get scared sometimes. Some of the girls here are getting out of class late at night and it’s dark in places on that parking lot. They could use the protection.”

If she owned a license, would she bring a gun on campus?

“Yeah. I’m a country girl. I know how to shoot.”

“I wouldn’t,” counters 19-year-old freshman Marcus McGlown of San Antonio. “I don’t feel comfortable around weapons. When I was a kid, my mother wouldn’t even let us point water pistols at each other.”

“It’s ironic that you would ask me about this,” admitted freshman Jose Garcia, Jr. “Just last week in speech class I had to speak on the benefits of concealed weapons at school. It’s a 50-50 thing. Having a concealed weapon might make you feel safer, you could defend yourself and maybe save lives, but then some student might get angry at a teacher and set them off.”

Garcia said he might get a CHL because he would feel safer.

Not me, stresses Beeville freshman Kristy Perez, a 24-year-old mother of three. “I think weapons shouldn’t be allowed on campus because of the odds someone might start shooting at someone.

“There’s no way I’m going to buy a gun. I’ve got kids at home.”

While Wentworth’s bill is gaining momentum, it faces tough hurdles in a political process that lawmakers and lobbyists classify as a process designed to keep legislation from passing.

Wentworth has spent most of the session trying to get his campus-carry bill up for debate.

The bill now must go to a House committee whose chairman then decides whether to pass it on to the full House for debate. If House members added amendments, the bill – if passed – then would be returned to Wentworth to see if he approved of the House amendments. If he doesn’t, the bill goes to a Senate-House conference committee where lawmakers iron out the differences.

The compromise bill then is returned to both sides of the Legislature for approval. If both approve, the bill becomes law. If not, it fails.

All this takes time; the current legislative session ends in three weeks.

Bill Clough is a reporter at the Bee-Picayune and can be reached at 358-2550, ext. 122, or at beepic@mySouTex.com.
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