Concealed carry amendment kills education legislation

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Concealed carry on campus may have hit another dead end after Sen. Judith Zaffirini, D-Laredo, pulled down her higher education bill Tuesday.

Sen. Jeff Wentworth, R-San Antonio, had attempted to add his controversial guns on campus legislation as an amendment to Zaffirini’s bill, which would have reduced reporting requirements for universities and in turn lowered tuition rates.

The move to propose the amendment came after Wentworth lost key Democrat supporters when he tried to pass his initial bill, which would have allowed concealed handgun license holders to carry guns on college campuses.


Senators, including Zaffirini, were surprised when Wentworth proposed the legislation as an amendment last Thursday. Senators approved the amendment 21-10 Tuesday.


Zaffirini withdrew her bill after she employed several parliamentary tactics to remove the amendment. She argued the amendment was not germane to her bill and asked for an immediate vote on the bill under the “five-second rule” because she said Wentworth had not asked senators to consider an amendment within certain time restraints.


Both tries failed but opened up a two-hour debate on the concealed carry amendment during which senators proposed several additional amendments to Wentworth’s amendment.


During debate, Wentworth denied Zaffarini’s attempt to add an amendment to allow a student referendum to vote on the issue and approve the issue on a campus by campus basis.


“Students are able to vote on other issues, they should certainly be able to vote on the danger posed by handguns on campuses,” Zaffirini said. “The students should have a voice.”


Wentworth denied all proposals to allow students, faculty or regent boards to hold a campus vote to make a final decision.


Sen. Rodney Ellis, D-Houston, said allowing concealed carry on campus would cause a direct increase for university insurance premiums.


“This is just ridiculous in my judgment,” Ellis said. “I hope you would go beyond the politics, the cost of implementing this is going to be astronomical with insurance cost.”


Wentworth accepted an amendment by Ellis to reimburse institutions that see an increased premium as a direct result of the legislation. Ellis said universities could see a 15-25 percent liability increase, but Wentworth said it would not cause additional risk.


The amendment addressed Brownsville Democrat Sen. Eddie Lucio’s desire to exempt primary and secondary schools located on university campuses. Sen. Leticia Van de Putte, D-San Antonio, praised Wentworth for maintaining a provision to allow universities to regulate storage rules in
campus dorms.


The future of concealed carry on campus remains unknown. Wentworth said he is grateful senators approved his amendment even though the bill has been left pending.


“The overwhelming majority of Texas Senators are in favor of allowing concealed carry on campus,” he said.