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Associated Student Government Senator Adam French speaks at Monday night’s meeting concerning concealed weapons on the Texas State campus. MERCURY PHOTO by SEAN BATURA

By SEAN BATURA
News Reporter

The Texas State student senate sent a message Monday to school administrators and representatives in Austin: allow individuals with concealed handgun licenses to carry firearms on campus.

Student senators voted 25-10 in favor of a resolution opposing the university’s current ban on concealed handguns. Seven senators abstained from voting.

Associated Student Government (ASG) President Melanie Ferrari is expected to either veto, sign, or refrain from acting on the resolution Wednesday. The resolution will be automatically approved if Ferrari takes no action.

Senators drafted the resolution on the spot after a resolution in favor of the university’s current policy fell by a 27-23 vote. Senators prohibited abstentions during the vote on the defeated resolution. One senator who abstained from voting on the pro-concealed carry resolution voted against the anti-concealed carry resolution. Six senators who abstained from voting on the pro-concealed carry resolution voted in favor of the anti-concealed carry resolution. The senate barely maintained a quorum throughout the meeting.

The votes on both resolutions occurred after ASG officials heard and questioned expert testimony from concealed handgun license (CHL) instructor Isaac Hart of LoneStar Handgun LLC.

Proponents of the pro-concealed carry resolution intend its approval to facilitate the passage of HB 86 in the state legislature. The legislation would compel both public and private institutions of higher education to allow anyone with CHLs to possess handguns on campus, though the weapons would have to remain concealed. State Representative-elect Jason Isaac (R-Dripping Springs), whose district will include Texas State, has expressed support for concealed carry on campus.

The pro-concealed carry resolution is to be used “as a means of creating a formal, representative statement on behalf of the majority of Texas State students only , and not a means for creating a policy or implementing an action,” in the language of the resolution.

The senate’s action Monday came after much debate and a lively public forum last week, when students and faculty sounded-off about the prospect of allowing concealed weapons on campus. The forum also featured a presentation from Texas State University Police Department (UPD) Captain of Operations Daniel Benitez, who counseled against allowing concealed handguns on campus. Benitez said that if HB 86 becomes law, police will have to undergo additional training in order to discern between aggressors and individuals acting in self-defense.

Benitez suggested increasing the size of the university’s police force as an alternative to allowing concealed carry on campus. Benitez said his department maintains a minimum of three officers on duty.

“Maybe we should have a minimum of six or seven officers on duty at any point in time,” Benitez said.

Those who brought forth the most statistics and research in support of their arguments at last week’s forum were generally in favor of concealed carry on campus, while supporters of the status quo generally argued from first principles. Most individuals who addressed ASG in person at the forum voiced support for allowing concealed carry on campus.

“(News of this forum) was emailed to us on Thursday, and today’s Monday,” said Texas State student Allison Bumsted, who expressed opposition to concealed carry on campus, at last week’s forum. “And it’s the Thanksgiving holiday. It’s a real poor time to do this when almost everyone’s leaving, because we don’t have school after today. So I’m sure a lot of people are already out of town. Out of all the people in this school, how many showed up, 200? It wasn’t enough time notice for people.”

Most of the written, anonymous comments Ferrari read aloud at the forum expressed opposition to concealed handguns on campus.

“A lot of students I’ve spoken with personally who are against concealed carry on campus are afraid to say it,” Ferrari said.

Ferrari said part of the alleged fear of some may stem from an air of violence surrounding the issue and a suspicion that the resolution in support of concealed carry was too popular to oppose.

During the debate that preceded the resolution’s approval on Monday, one senator said some of her constituents opposed to concealed carry on campus were afraid to offer in-person comment at the meeting. Some senators opposed to concealed carry on campus said the presence of deadly weapons on campus among the student body would prevent the flourishing of a free marketplace of ideas and a healthy learning environment.

Proponents of concealed carry on campus said there is no evidence that abolishing the current ban on hidden handguns causes an increase in crime or hinders student learning.

“All this, to me, kind of comes down to self-defense, and primarily self-sufficiency — the right of each person to defend themselves, to secure their own life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness,” said Texas State student Preston Bissuett, who supported concealed carry on campus at last week’s forum.

Ferrari said she will take into account views expressed at last week’s forum, Monday’s ASG discussion, the vote counts on the resolutions, and meetings with her constituents, before taking action on the resolution. If Ferrari vetoes the legislation, it may come back before senators in the spring semester. Senators may override Ferrari’s veto by a two-thirds vote.

Senator Adam French authored the defeated pro-status quo resolution. However, French said he personally supports allowing CHL holders to bring their handguns on campus, and said he voted against his views because his constituents are mostly opposed to concealed carry on campus. After the pro-status quo legislation was defeated, Senator Tyler Crump immediately authored the pro-concealed carry resolution. French said he voted for the second resolution.

“We got the majority opinion in the first one (vote), and I believe that we needed to voice the majority opinion in the second one,” French said.

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23 thoughts on “ASG senate approves campus gun resolution

  1. As a former SWAT officer and a current NRA Certified Firearms Instructor, I am a little confused as to why a police officer would need additional training to “discern between aggressors and individuals acting in self-defense”. Its called police work.

    Hiring more cops is not a reason or excuse to prevent students with concealed weapons permits to carry on campus either unless you hire enough for every student to carry a concealed police officer, it is not a solution.

  2. Lets step into the real world for a minute…. the problem is the lack of training a CHL holder undergoes. Take a class, listen to some laws and advice on techniques and “shoot – don’t shoot”, take a test, and shoot a target. It’s the last one that’s the biggest problem. It’s the last one that’s deadly.
    Any person can shoot at something that: a) doesn’t shoot back b) doesn’t have a massive adrenaline dump coursing through their veins while trying to take a shot and c) is in an environment that has no movement (people) downrange, no one screaming deathly cries, and ear plugs to dampen the noise of the firearm.
    Peace officers (should) and SWAT (does) TRAIN constantly to overcome these hurdles that EVERYONE (including peace officers) will be confronted with when the time comes to use deadly force.
    I’m a Texas Peace Officer and on a SWAT team, my wife is a CHL holder and I have her train with her weapon once a month. My mother and father are CHL holders and they- like 99% of CHL holders- took the class, fired the weapon, carry the weapon all places they can legally carry, but do not fire the weapon or train with it but once a year. Sorry, that’s not enough- not for the privilege to carry. The question is- exactly how many “holders” don’t fire their weapon between the first CHL course and the recertification.
    “….the right of each person to defend themselves, to secure their own life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness” sounds great in the form of a newspaper quote. What was not stated? It is the duty of each person to practice constantly with the weapons they plan to defend themselves or other with, so, when an active shooter situation presents itself, they don’t kill the person sitting next to them in class… or running from the room…or provide one more weapon for the active shooter to use…
    THE REALITY IS: CHL HOLDERS ARE NOT REQUIRED TO TRAIN CONSTANTLY- SO MOST DO NOT
    THE REALITY IS: YOU FIGHT HOW YOU TRAIN. PERIOD.

  3. This is a serious policy, and I feel residents should have a right to vote on it. This *will* affect our community.

  4. This vote doesn’t set anything into motion or have any legally-binding force. The state legislature is the only body that can change the laws regarding concealed carry.

  5. The CHL also results in a background check once a year so, to be fair, it’s not as simple as a gun safety course, which Lowe described above. It’s understandable, on many levels, why police officers would feel threatened by this possibility. Of course it’s easier to police a society when you carry the most powerful weapon and I could ramble on with many other TRUE smart*ss statements like this.

    With that said, in my opinion, it’s a stupid paranoid idea by a bunch of people that need to turn off their television. I can just imagine some 18 year old from Katy who’s never been around people that looked or thought or acted different than he/she did and someone makes them uncomfortable on campus and they flash their piece to “protect their pursuit of life, liberty and property… er something more people can afford, pursuit of happiness.” Then someone freaks out, starts to cry, never gets over the traumatic experience, or worse pulls out their piece.

    And I’d have more faith in the ideal society of “sane” people protecting eachother from the “lone wolf” if I could believe that the “sane” were so. But this would require getting off of ritalin, iPhones, red bull, facebook, television and their parents financial support.

    Oh yeah and Griffin’s right, this means nothing.

  6. Hugh- residents did “vote” on it by who they elected to Texas Congress. Contact your reps.
    Already Rep Simpson (R) has filed HB 86 ( allow CH guns on higher ed institutions) for this coming legislative session.

    I hope it “means nothing”, but you never know in Texas.

  7. First of all, let me make one thing clear for those who read this. I am a supporter of the right to own guns and I am a supporter of the right to carry a concealed weapon. I am just not in favor of allowing students to carry a weapon onto campus.

    As a current graduate student at Texas State and the husband of a junior faculty member at the university, I feel that allowing students to carry guns on campus is the worst idea I have heard for quite some time. I can’t imagine what it would be like for professors and other faculty who have to stand up in front of a room of 300+ students not knowing how many of those in the class have guns on their person. Don’t you think they have enough to worry about as it is? A university is a place for people to learn and feel comfortable learning in classroom and to me feeling comfortable is knowing that the person sitting next to me is not carrying a loaded pistol. Younger students with CHLs who carry their handguns into classes would only be trying to prove one of two things: 1) Bragging rights. Someone who has seen too many movies and feels macho enough to have a gun strapped to their waist while bragging to friends about it; 2) Someone has seen too many movies and wants to carry, in order to be the hero of the day, catching the criminal before the cops do.

    I’m sure people are using the recent incident that occurred in Austin to support a pro guns-on-campus platform, but let me say this: The confusion that an incident such as this creates could cause more harm that the actual “shooter.” If students want to feel protected on campus, let’s hire more police officers to patrol. They get paid for it and they generally do a fine job. We do not have room in our community for vigilantes. ASG should be spending its time on more productive issues.

  8. I don’t understand why this upsets people any more than going any place in public (sans a Post Office, some government buildings, and places that sell alcohol) where firearms are allowed with a CHL? You’ll walk by tens if not hundreds of concealed firearms in your daily course of living, and if you don’t notice them then, what makes you think you would on Texas State (if HB 86 passes, and the campus approves it)?

    The comments Sgt. Benitez made are to be scoffed at- first, if you can’t tell the aggressor from a self-defending individual you shouldn’t be a law enforcement officer, period. Part of TCLEOSE training is identifying the aggressor, even amongst individuals (especially those defending themselves), since, in public, officers can reasonably expect to come to a scene that might have CHL holders defending themselves, so his point of “more training” is moot and unnecessary. Second, what makes him think that 6 or 7 officers would be able to respond any quicker to a call than the 3 or 4 that are on duty now? When they all sit a Chipotle and Italian Garden for hours anyway they aren’t going to have any quicker response times because they’ll all still have to go to the PD to get their gear (see: ARs). So his assertions and assumptions are false and unwarranted.

    There largest contributing factor, in my opinion, is that shooters will have to second guess whether they’ll be able to pull it (the act of violence) off, not knowing who might be able to defend themselves. That uncertainty alone might stop some. Second, if I were a non-CHL holder, I’d be glad when a CHL holder put a bullet in an aggressor’s chest, because they probably saved more lives, by not allowing the shooter to rampage on (chaining doors shut and barricading themselves in, as the VTech shooter did).

    Don’t be scared by things you’re not educated about. Just because you don’t like firearms doesn’t mean they are bad. Not everyone who carries a weapon has a quick temper and would be “willing to flash their piece” around (which is illegal for a CHL holder, and is basis for revoking their license). Get informed rather than throwing about catchphrases and fear mongering.

  9. How can any officer not tell the difference in a guy walking desk to desk shooting people in the head, and a person hiding under a desk holding a ballpoint pen, scissors, knife or pistol defensively?

    My retired Officer friends and I are CHLs, but we practice shoot-don’t shoot scenarios more than MOST officers (excluding SWAT teams)

  10. 911 Hello? It’s been 5 hours, the guy shot 45 people, and is about 3 desks away from mine now …

    911 operator: Thank you for your patience, continue hiding under the desk SOMEONE will be with you shortly.
    The police set up a perimeter in case he tries to escape; they are attempting negotiations again now.

  11. Slightly off topic, but a year ago, as I sat in the lobby of a 4-star San Antonio hotel, shots rang out as the glass windows above me exploded. Needless to say, there was ensuing panic and confusion as to what to do. Luckily it was “only” a drive-by shooting and no one was injured physically, but I’ve lived with the fear since, that a shooter can be anywhere, anytime. My queston to you all is, are CHL classes available in San Marcos? I know many people who want to find a class locally.

  12. Yes Cathy, there are quite a few Certified CHL instructors in San Antonio; just Google SAN ANTONIO CHL
    Also, more info at txdps.state.tx.us/administration/crime_records/chl/chlsindex

  13. Cathy, you can check out the TexasCHLforum for recommendations on CHL Instructors in San Antonio, and learn quite a bit by browsing it.

  14. Cathy, I’m a dufus sorry, just do what I said, but substitute San Marcos for San Antonio in my posts above

  15. If I’m not mistaken, one of the Criminology Professors at Texas State University is a CHL and firearms instructor who trains future and current police officers. But, he isn’t currently allowed to be armed on Campus.

  16. Thanks for your help, John. I’ve seen the signs for Lonestar, but really would prefer a class in San Marcos.

  17. Somebody tell me what the shooter guy looks like? How will you know unless you are seeing what is going on at that moment. If you run around the corner and just see a guy with a gun how do you know he is the shooter or someone else who is trying to find the shooter. Can you trust what he tells you? Can you trust what he looks like? If you wait to find out and he is the shooter it is too late because chances are he waited just long enough for you to hesitate and he shot you first.

  18. Cathy, Albert H. Cobb, Jr., M.D. F.A.A.O., F.A.A.O.A., Board Certified Otolaryngologist
    can probaly tell you
    Dr. Cobb’s outside interests:
    N.R.A. Handgun instructor.
    Texas Concealed Handgun instructor.
    San Marcos Clinic (512) 396-2125
    San Marcos, TX 78667

  19. The Texas Department of Public Safety has
    CHL Links, one being : Find An Instructor on the left side of the DPS CHL page
    txdps.state.tx.us/administration/crime_records/chl/handgunInstrOptIn

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