Students have polarized views on the proposed concealed carry legislation

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Members of the UT community are revisiting the issue of guns on campus after a state senator introduced a bill Thursday that would allow concealed firearms on university grounds.

The bill, filed by state Sen. Brian Birdwell, R-Granbury, and co-authored with 13 other senators, would allow concealed carry license holders to carry concealed handguns while on campus and would prevent universities from establishing rules prohibiting concealed carry.

President William Powers Jr. opposed a similar bill proposed during the 2011 legislative session and will oppose the bill filed Thursday, UT spokesman Gary Susswein said.

“He continues to oppose the idea of guns on campus,” Susswein said. “His position has not changed.”

Representatives of student organizations voiced both concerns and support for the legislation.

University Democrats president Nate Norris said he fears allowing concealed firearms on campus could potentially give depressed or troubled students access to a method of suicide.

“If you put guns in dorms on campus, they’re readily available for students who are already in a volatile time,” Norris said. “I don’t think access to guns would help that situation.”

Norris said he doubts allowing concealed carry on campus would prevent a shooting such as the Dec. 14 shooting that killed 20 children and six staff members at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn. He said the presence of firearms in public areas has not prevented shootings from occurring in those areas.

“Columbine had two armed guards and they weren’t able to stop the shooters,” Norris said, referring to the 1999 shooting at Columbine High School in Columbine, Colo.

Danny Zeng, College Republicans vice president, said the majority of students would not bring firearms on campus if the law passed because Texas law only allows citizens who are 21 years old or older to have concealed carry licenses, and most students are younger than that.

“There’s a perception that if we allow concealed carry, we will see a huge flood of guns come into UT. That’s not going to happen,” Zeng said.

Student Government president Thor Lund said his organization will lobby in favor of a proposal that gives universities the authority to allow concealed carry on their campuses.

“We want to make sure the decision is up to the university and not a state mandate,” Lund said.

Printed on Friday, January 18, 2013 as: Powers opposes concealed carry bill