By: José Niño
Despite Republicans being able to maintain control of the Texas House, Democrats in the legislative chamber are not relenting in their efforts to push for gun control.
Terry Meza, the state representative for House District 105, introduced House Bill 201 on November 9, 2020, which would ban campus carry at universities in Texas. In June of 2015, the Lone Star State shocked leftists across the state by passing SB 11, a bill that allowed for individuals with concealed carry licenses to carry on public universities across the state.
Universities do, however, have limited ability to regulate firearms with regard to how they’re concealed and stored. They also have some leeway in carving out restricted areas for concealed carry. What’s more, the law does ban open carry and mandates a permit, thus making it a crime to carry a firearm on campus without a license to carry. Individuals must be 21 years or older to carry on a university’s premises. According to University of Texas figures, 1 percent of its student body is armed.
Since the tragic Virginia Tech massacre of 2007, Second Amendment activists in Texas have worked diligently to make campus carry the law of the land. The battles were difficult to say the least. Detractors constantly fear-mongered about the most absurd scenarios of students getting involved in drunken shootouts and campuses being hotbeds for gun violence. It’s the typical anti-gun hysteria that a Second Amendment operative has grown accustomed to over the past few decades.
All of this hard work could go to waste if legislators like Meza have their way. By repealing Texas’ campus carry law, Meza will have universities revert back to their traditional state of being easy targets for potential mass murderers. As statistics show, “gun-free” zones and “no guns allowed” signs simply don’t deter criminals from carrying out acts of violence.
K-12 schools have generally been the primary targets for assailants due to the fact that most teachers and visitors are unarmed. Some schools may luck out if they have armed resource officers or some kind of security on the premise, however, in most cases, criminals enjoy advantages when planning attacks on the average, gun-free public school. They are essentially criminal safe spaces, where shooters can potentially rack up nasty kill counts due to the lack of armed personnel at these places. In fact, research shows nearly 98 percent of mass shootings take place in "gun free zones."
Texas universities have fortunately reversed this trend, thanks to Texas’ passage of Campus Carry in 2015. The law still needs some tweaks, but it’s a step in the right direction now that university staff, professors, students, and visitors can stand up to would-be criminals.
Meza’s bill is not the first time Texas Democrats have introduced a bill to severely undermine Campus Carry. The grassroots organization Lone Star Gun Rights provided an overview of some of the efforts Democrats have made over the years to attack Campus Carry:
Since Abbott signed campus carry into law, Democrats have fought hard to repeal or undermine the law. In 2019, Reps. Vikki Goodwin and Rafael Anchia sponsored House bills 1236 and 1173 to allow public higher learning institutions to withdraw from campus carry.
The passage of such legislation could make Second Amendment activists’ work go to naught. The good news is that Republican control of both chambers of the Texas legislature should prevent this attempted gun grab from becoming reality. Concerned Texas have made this scenario possible. Their push for more comprehensive reforms, such as Constitutional Carry, has at least forced establishment Republicans to concede on smaller reforms, such as Campus Carry. Texas Republicans now must at least pay lip service to the Second Amendment and are much more hesitant to consider passing their own forms of gun grabs.
The battles are far from over, but Second Amendment activists in the Lone Star State should be proud of their efforts thus far. The next step is to make Constitutional Carry the law of the land in Texas, which is much more attainable since Republicans are still in control of all branches of the state legislature. Now, it’s just a matter of applying the right amount of pressure and getting Republicans on record with regard to legislation that Second Amendment supporters desire.
José Niño is a freelance writer based in Austin, Texas. Sign up for his mailing list here. Contact him via Facebook, Twitter, or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Get his e-book, The 10 Myths of Gun Control, here.