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Texas College Students May Soon Be ‘Packing Heat’

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A customer looks over a .45-caliber pistol in suburban Chicago on July 12, 2010. (credit: Scott Olson/Getty Images)

A customer looks over a .45-caliber pistol in suburban Chicago on July 12, 2010. (credit: Scott Olson/Getty Images)

FORT WORTH (KRLD/CBSDFW.COM) – College students and professors could soon be ‘packing heat’ at universities across the state. The senate and house are both expected to approve a bill that allows those with proper permits the right to carry guns on campus.

Proponents say the move could possibly deter a ‘Virginia Tech’ type of situation, referring to the 2007 rampage, by a student, that left 32 people dead.

Opponents, including Texas Christian University (TCU) Professor John Harvey, think passage of the bill will make state campuses less safe. “How anyone can think this will increase security has to be a nutcase,” said Harvey. “All you’re gonna do is give guns to a bunch of unstable kids or [have weapons in] a situation where liquor is going to be prevalent and people are gonna shoot each other.”

More than half the members of the Texas house are backing the bill that Harvey says will make it easier for a potential shooter, even if that person isn’t the one with the concealed handgun license. “You can imagine if the people carrying a gun to campus would, some of them would be kinda open about the fact. Using it to sort of show off that they have a gun,” Harvey said, as an example. “Well gosh, now the shooter doesn’t even have to bring one [a gun] with him. We have somebody right there, ya know, bringing the gun onto campus.”

He says those carrying wouldn’t be trained in how to deal with an active shooter on campus…only in how to shoot the gun.

Charles Cotton, with the National Rifle Association, disagrees with Harvey and says though there have been no studies that guns can make campuses safer. “I do think there is at least a good correlation with the schools, primarily in Colorado but in Utah as well, that have allowed guns on campus for quite some time and there hasn’t been a shooting there,” said Cotton.

Cotton says the training for a Concealed Handgun License (CHL) is more about understanding Texas gun laws than about encouraging students to shoot. “How to disengage… how to keep from getting in a confrontation… the shooting portion of the class is really nothing more than a test.”

Cotton feels carrying a gun on campus is not just about preventing a Virginia Tech tragedy, but more about protecting students and faculty who have to be on campus late at night.

Actual victims of the Virginia Tech shooting have lobbied in Austin against the measure.

The University of Texas, in particular, has a troubled history of students bringing handguns on campus. In 1966, a sniper shooting from UT’s clock tower killed 14 students and in September of 2010, a University of Texas student went on a shooting rampage before killing himself in the school’s library. No one else was hurt.

If the law is passed, Texas would become the second state to pass such a broad-based law that would affect 38 public universities and an estimated 500,000 students.

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