Rep. Fletcher Passes Campus Carry with Bipartisan Support in the Texas House of Representatives

May 29, 2015

By Rep. Allen Fletcher

Late Tuesday night, as the Texas House of Representatives approached the midnight deadline, Chairman Allen Fletcher successfully passed Senate Bill 11, the Campus Personal Protection Act.

Senate Bill 11 would allow adults who are licensed to carry a concealed handgun by the Department of Public Safety the ability to protect themselves while on a college campus.

To be eligible for a concealed handgun license in the State of Texas, an individual must be 21 years of age or older. They must pass state and federal background checks, attend a concealed handgun class and pass a written and shooting proficiency exam.

Chairman Fletcher recognizes there are areas on a campus that may require a prohibition of weapons such as the National Biocontainment Laboratory in Galveston, or areas in proximity to an MRI machine. Fletcher was prepared with several amendments addressing specific exemptions. House members filed more than 100 amendments, a majority of those addressed exemptions.

An amendment had to be drafted to eliminate the dozens of amendments that would have killed the bill if the clock ran out. The first amendment brought up was drafted by Chairman Zerwas and Fletcher allowing each campus’ board of regents or governing board with a two-thirds vote, and with reason, prohibit the concealed carrying of weapons in a portion of a premises. The campuses must also submit biannual reports to the legislature justifying each of those decisions.

“The amendment by Chairman Zerwas and I resolved a need for most of the amendments which would have created a patchwork of exemptions in statute regarding prohibitions. By adopting this amendment we saved several hours of debate as we risked passing the deadline. The regent’s two-thirds vote threshold should properly assure the regents will address these prohibitions carefully and with specificity,” said Fletcher.

Debate came to a pause as a point of order was called by a representative hoping to kill the bill. The point of order was in regards to a term that was used in the bill analysis, an accompanying document. An agreement was made to adopt another amendment in exchange to withdraw the point of order, which had not yet been ruled on, to proceed with debate. The amendment, requested by the opposition was to prohibit private university opt-out. As those in favor of passing this bill were obtaining signatures to force a vote, the opponents withdrew all other amendments and passed the bill with bipartisan support 101-47.

Conviction statistics regarding licensees can be found on the DPS website and the statistics show concealed handgun licensees make up less than one-half of one percent of total convictions.

“We have seen television ads depicting wild fraternity parties, clubs, and bars; none of which have anything to do with this bill. Students 21 years of age and older have been lawfully and responsibly carrying in Texas for over nineteen years, they’ve been able to carry their concealed handguns in public and on campus grounds but the moment they step foot in an academic building they became criminals. I am proud to have carried this legislation through the Texas House for the second time. I would like to thank Senator Birdwell for his work on this bill in the Senate; it’s moved further than any other campus carry bill and I hope the House and the Senate can agree on changes before the session ends so it can be sent to Governor Abbott for his signature.”

The Senate did not concur with House amendments and now the bill heads to a conference committee to work out the differences.

The bill text and analysis can be found at: http://www.legis.state.tx.us/

Next:

Connect With Us