San Marcos Mercury | Local News from San Marcos and Hays County, Texas


by REEVE HAMILTON

State Sen. Brian Birdwell, R-Granbury, said he is “disappointed and frustrated” that Senate Criminal Justice Committee Chairman John Whitmire, D-Houston, has not scheduled a hearing for his bill to allow people with concealed handgun licenses to carry firearms in college campus buildings.

Student Sen. Adam French speaks in support of allowing people with concealed handgun licenses to pack heat on university campuses during a 2010 Associated Student Government meeting. Senators that year passed a resolution in support of “campus carry” but it was promptly vetoed by the student body president. Student leaders again voiced their support of campus carry in October. But in the real Texas senate, the legislation’s prospects appear dim this session. MERCURY FILE PHOTO by SEAN BATURA

Then-Student Sen. Adam French speaks in support of allowing people with concealed handgun licenses to pack heat on university campuses during an 2010 Associated Student Government meeting. Student leaders that year approved a resolution in support of “campus carry” and did so again in October 2012. But in the real Texas senate, the legislation’s prospects appear dim this session. MERCURY FILE PHOTO by SEAN BATURA

“But I’m not backing up, and I’m not giving up,” Birdwell said on Wednesday.

Campus carry legislation has not been successful in the last two legislative sessions. But Birdwell said that this time he and other supporters have worked hard to address concerns raised by senators during discussions on previous bills. Whitmire allowed some of those bills to make it to the Senate floor for a vote, but so far he has not set a hearing for Senate Bill 182, and has indicated he has no intention to.

On Wednesday, Whitmire permitted a committee vote on a bill by state Sen. Glenn Hegar, R-Katy, that would allow handguns to be stored in vehicles in campus parking lots. The measure passed. Some observers have speculated that Birdwell could attempt to attach his bill to Hegar’s as an amendment, but Birdwell said he has no plan to do that.

“I need to take this fight on my own,” he said. “I don’t want to, in amending his bill, cause him any difficulty that would jeopardize his bill passing.”

Even without using someone else’s bill as a vehicle, Birdwell said there are some options remaining to keep campus carry alive. There is a companion bill by state Rep. Allen Fletcher, R-Cypress, that is sitting in the House Calendars Committee, though Birdwell noted that it has been amended so that it is not as strong as he would like.

If Fletcher’s bill makes it out of the House and over to the Senate, Birdwell said, it is possible it could get referred to a comittee other than Whitmire’s. And if it comes to it, Birdwell could attempt to have his bill moved to a different committee.

That would be up to Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst.

“He said this is a priority,” Birdwell said, “and I take him at his word.”

Birdwell also said he hasn’t given up on the possibility that Whitmire could change his mind and allow a hearing, in which case Birdwell is confident he has the votes to pass the bill out of committee.

No matter what, the senator insisted that he would not let up on his efforts.

“I may lose gloriously. Don’t want to. Don’t desire to. But this is a God-given, constitutional right,” Birdwell said. “We’re going to keep fighting for it, because it’s worth it.”


REEVE HAMILTON reports for The Texas Tribune where this story was originally published. It is reprinted here through a news partnership between the Tribune and the San Marcos Mercury.

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