On Tuesday, the Texas State House approved a bill that would require public universities to allow concealed handguns on campus. The bill, which originated in the Senate, was passed minutes before its midnight deadline. A final vote in the House, and further negotiations with the Senate will determine whether it is sent to Texas Gov. Greg Abbott to be signed into law by June 1.
Senate Bill 11 was passed after House Republicans added language that exempted health facilities, let universities create “gun-free zones,” and made private colleges follow the lead of the public universities, according to the Texas Tribune.
CBS News noted that although the legislation looked like it was destined to fail, “with more than 100 amendments lined up in a Democratic effort to kill it,” Democrats removed the amendments about 25 minutes before the midnight deadline, and the measure was approved, 101-47.
The Texas Tribune noted that the House’s version of the bill is a “significant departure from the legislation that passed the Senate.”
According to the Houston Chronicle, the bill must be approved by a majority of House members one more time before it goes back to the Senate, where “differences would be ironed out in a conference committee,” and where “opponents of the legislation expect there could be deadlock.”
The Texas Tribune reported that Rep. Allen Fletcher (R-Houston) introduced the legislation on the House floor on Tuesday night, leaving lawmakers two and a half hours to debate more than 100 amendments that had been added by Democrats.
Although Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer (D-San Antonio), an opponent of the measure, brought a point of order against the bill, he withdrew his challenge after 30 minutes of discussion. Martinez Fischer said that he thought one of the two amendments added – requiring private universities to follow the lead of public universities – might be enough to kill the legislation before the final vote.
“Tomorrow morning there are going to be a number of powerful people — maybe alumni, donors, board members — who are going to say we better get sensible, practical and realistic about our gun policies in the state of Texas,” Martinez said.
Fletcher said he felt the legislation is necessary to ensure college students’ right to defend themselves. “The idea that this bill will increase any increase in violence is unfounded,” Fletcher said. “We should not unarm them or disarm them.”