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Lubbock journal talks CCW on campus and opencarry.org


Accomplished Advocate
May 8, 2006
Bedford, Texas, USA
imported post


AUSTIN - Last June, when the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a Washington, D.C., ban on handguns, some state legislators and legal experts thought the high court's ruling affirmed Americans' right to own firearms and saw no need for any gun legislation in next year's session of the Texas Legislature. But Sen. Jeff Wentworth, author of last year's castle doctrine law - which gives Texans the right to attack an intruder if they feel threatened at their home, business or car - says Texas needs at least one more gun law, and he is planning to author it. The San Antonio Republican is drafting a bill that, if the Legislature approves and Gov. Rick Perry signs into law, would allow Texans with concealed gun permits to carry their weapons on college campuses, where concealed weapons are now prohibited. "I want to introduce this bill because I want the students to have a chance to live if something like that happens again," Wentworth said in reference to last year's shootings at Virginia Tech and Northern Illinois University, which claimed the lives of 32 and six people, respectively. "Right now, they are sitting ducks." In addition, OpenCarry.org, a relatively new but well-organized group based in northern Virginia, has launched a major campaign to lobby the Texas Legislature to pass an "open carry" law, which would let people wear their firearms in plain view, just like law enforcement officers in uniform. "Texas is one of only six states that does not allow people to wear their gun in plain view," said Mike Stollenwerk, co-founder of the group. "Texas sticks out like a sore thumb which is ironic because it is a pro-gun state. Gun owners should have the choice of carrying their gun in public." What Wentworth and OpenCarry.org have in mind may not necessarily mean a return to the gun slinging days of the Wild West, as some gun-control advocates have suggested. But some lawmakers and Legislature watchers say that if such legislative proposals make it to the floors of the House and the Senate, there will be a spirited debate which, if nothing else, could reinforce the stereotype that Texas is a trigger-happy state. "This is crazy," said Tomasita "Tommie" Garza, executive director of Texans for Gun Safety, a Houston-based group opposed to both proposals. "We don't need any more gun laws, especially laws that would allow people to be armed on college campuses or display their guns in public," Garza said. "This would not only make us more unsafe but would reinforce the cowboy image that people in other states and around the world have of us." State Rep. Lon Burnam, D-Fort Worth-agreed. "Both proposals are equally bad and I wish Sen. Wentworth bothered to check with every teacher in the state," Burnam said. "They are against it because it is frightening to even think of seeing students carrying guns. I don't care if they are 21 or 22 year-old students, there are a few hotheads and to allow them to carry a weapon would be dangerous." So, if that kind of legislation gets to the floor of the House, he will fight vigorously to defeat it, Burnam said. "This is going to be another highly divisive issue that we don't need," he added. "We've got many more pressing problems we need to take care of. I just wish many of my colleagues wouldn't be so afraid of the NRA (National Rifle Association) and would take a strong stand against those bills." Wentworth, a Texas Tech law school graduate who has served in the Legislature 20 years - mostly in the Senate - said he has heard that before. "These are the same people we responded to 10-12 years ago when we passed the concealed gun bill," Wentworth said of the 1995 legislation which allows Texans who qualify to get a concealed weapon permit. "They said there would be bloodletting on the street, that there would be too many people killed if we passed the bill." Moreover, the law says that to qualify for a concealed weapon permit the person has to be at least 21 years of age, Wentworth stressed. "So, we're not talking about freshmen, sophomores or juniors," he explained. "This would be mainly for seniors and graduate students, mature students. We're not talking about many people." Reps. Joe Heflin and David Swinford, who have concealed weapon permits, said that although they would have to give a lot of thought before deciding whether to support Wentworth's bill, agreed that no matter what the outcome is, if the bill should get to the House floor it would generate a passionate debate. "But it won't be a partisan debate," Swinford, R-Dumas, predicted. "It would be a debate based on personal feelings about the issue and at the end of the day, we would move on to other issues without any hard feelings." As for the open carry proposal, neither Swinford nor Heflin liked the idea. "I am not in favor of that," Swinford said. "The law is very strict about displaying your weapon and I agree. If you were to walk into a 7-Eleven showing your gun it would make a lot of people uneasy." The 140-day session starts on Jan. 13 and ends on June 1. If both gun legislation proposals were to become law it would be on Sept. 1, coinciding with the start of the 2009-10 academic year.
If these above reps belong to anyone on the boards, lets start calling them.