Austin, Texas (KCBD) — Texas may give college students and professors the right to carry guns on campus. More than half the members of the Texas House have signed on as coauthors of a measure to direct universities to allow concealed handguns.
Supporters of the legislation argue that gun violence on campuses, such as the mass shootings at Virginia Tech in 2007 and Northern Illinois in 2008, show that the best defense against a gunman is students who can shoot back.
"It's strictly a matter of self-defense,'' said state Senator Jeff Wentworth, Republican of San Antonio. "I don't ever want to see repeated on a Texas college campus what happened at Virginia Tech, where some deranged, suicidal madman goes into a building and is able to pick off totally defenseless kids like sitting ducks.''
Justin Wharff is the media relations officer for students for carrying concealed weapons on campus at Texas Tech University. "We have the right to self protection and schools can not guarantee us that personal safety. We have the right and the obligation to protect ourselves," Wharff said.
To obtain a Concealed Handgun License you must be at least 21 years old, never been convicted of a felony, and pass a state and federal background check. But several students say they don't think guns should be allowed on campus regardless of the CHL requirements.
"I just don't think the classroom is where guns belong, its a place where you come to learn and express your thoughts and opinions and ideas. If you have a dispute, then you settle it with words. God forbid there is another Virginia Tech I have enough faith in our security and our police that they can handle it, " Tech student, Taji Senior said.
However, lawmakers like State Senator Jeff Wentworth think the new bill means lives will be saved. "The upside is that we'll save lives if we ever have a situation like what happened on the Virginia Tech campus," Wentworth said.
Andy Pelosi, who leads the Campaign To Keep Guns Off Campus says the new bill will not protect students.
"We don't want to see another Virginia Tech either, but adding more guns is not going to stop crime or more incidents from happening. Guns on campus is not the answer," Pelosi said.
Until the Virginia Tech killings, the worst college shooting in US history occurred at the University of Texas, when sniper Charles Whitman went to the top of the administration tower in 1966 and killed 16 people and wounded dozens. In September, a University of Texas student fired several shots from an assault rifle before killing himself.
Copyright 2011 KCBD. All rights reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.