UPDATED: Thursday, January 17, 2013 - 1:11pm
AUSTIN—Texas State Senator Brian Birdwell filed legislation Thursday to allow students, faculty and staff with a concealed handgun license (CHL) to carry firearms for personal protection on college campuses.
Senate Bill 182 also states that colleges or universities may not circumvent the intent of the Act by imposing administrative bans or penalties on students or employees lawfully carrying their licensed handgun on campus.
This legislation affirms private property rights by ensuring that independent or private universities may establish rules concerning CHL-holders on their campuses, and allows all colleges and universities to establish rules and regulations governing the storage of handguns in dorms.
"For me, this isn't just about the firearm," Birdwell said. "It's about trusting citizens with their God-given, constitutional rights."
SB 182 also includes several statutory clauses to ensure current law is not sidestepped.
• Ensuring colleges and universities may post notices that athletic events and sporting venues are off-limits to CHL-holders.
• Clarifying that locations which are prohibited under the Penal Code—bars, hospitals, K-12 educational facilities and churches, for example—will remain off-limits to CHL-holders even if they happen to be located on a campus.
• Providing colleges and universities immunity from liability for the actions of CHL-holders on campus—except in cases where private or independent institutions have adopted administrative prohibitions.
At the time of filing, SB 182 had been signed and joint-authored by 13 of Birdwell's colleagues.
"I'm proud to be filing this bill with the support of so many of my colleagues, as well as the full backing of the National Rifle Association and the Texas State Rifle Association," Birdwell said.
"This is a piece of legislation I have consistently heard about from the citizens I was elected to serve, and I look forward to seeing it enacted."
In a statement, Texas State Rifle Association Legislative Director Alice Tripp said, "The TSRA—the state-affiliate of the NRA—and our 45,000 Texas members strongly support Senator Birdwell and his legislation allowing adult Texas concealed handgun licensees to have this option for personal protection with them in their vehicles, on campus property, and in the classroom. Personal protection is a basic human right."
To obtain a CHL in Texas, a citizen must be at least 21 years old; must pass state and federal background checks; must submit fingerprints to the Department of Public Safety; cannot be chemically dependent, of unsound mind or delinquent in paying official fines, fees or child support; must be eligible to purchase a handgun in the State of Texas; and must complete a minimum of 10 hours of comprehensive training, including a live-fire shooting proficiency test.