On-Campus Gun Bills Stumble
By John Gramlich, Staff Writer
In both states, pro-gun activists had hoped to authorize the possession of firearms for self-defense on college campuses. Such measures have been a priority for many GOP lawmakers since the 2007 shootings at Virginia Tech, where a gunman killed 32 teachers and students before turning the gun on himself. Many gun-rights supporters believe the gunman, Seung-Hui Cho, could have been stopped sooner if more students and faculty had been able to carry their own weapons.
So far, only Utah specifically allows guns on college campuses , according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. However, as many as 15 states have considered guns-on-campus legislation this year, and Arizona and Texas were seen as the likeliest places for such bills to succeed. Until the very end of each state's legislative session, it looked as though they would. But the legislation didn't make it through.
In Arizona, Governor Jan Brewer issued an unexpected veto of a guns-on-campus proposal approved by her fellow Republicans in the Legislature. Brewer said the final language of the bill — which, through a compromise, allowed guns only on campus "rights of way," rather than in classrooms and other buildings — was sloppy . Among other things, Brewer said the language might unintentionally allow guns near elementary and secondary schools along with college campuses. Brewer's move disappointed many former allies, who saw it as a betrayal by a normally steadfast supporter of gun rights.
In Texas, a plan to allow guns on campus had the support of the governor and two-thirds of the state Senate, while attracting 88 co-sponsors in the 150-member state House of Representatives, Inside Higher Ed reported . Even so, the legislation ran into procedural difficulties when the House ruled that it could not be attached to a larger university financing bill. The chamber stripped the provision from the larger bill and never brought it up for a vote again.
Now, there is talk around Austin that some House members quietly quashed the controversial measure on purpose.
"A lot of people in Texas are afraid of the [National Rifle Association] and will sign on to legislation because that can make them more likely to get endorsed," an opponent of the law told Inside Higher Ed . "But in reality they don't want the legislation to come to the floor and will work in the background to keep that from happening."