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Texas: Senate Committee Advances Campus Carry and Open Carry Bills

Please begin contacting your State Senator in support of both measures!

After more than eight hours of public testimony on Thursday, the Texas Senate Committee on State Affairs approved Senate Bill 11 and Senate Bill 17, NRA-supported campus carry and open carry measures, by a 7 to 2 vote. Thank you to Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick (R) for prioritizing these bills as the leader of the Texas Senate and to Committee Chair, state Senator Joan Huffman (R-Houston), for quickly scheduling them both for public hearings.

SB 11, sponsored by state Senator Brian Birdwell (R-Granbury), removes restrictions in state law that prohibit law-abiding adult Concealed Handgun Licensees from protecting themselves on college and university campuses. While opponents testifying against the bill repeatedly ignored the 20-year track record of law-abiding and responsible behavior that Texas CHLs have established, there was one refreshing take on the legislation from a significant member of the higher education community. Committee members read into the record this letter sent to Lt. Governor Patrick from Texas A&M System Chancellor John Sharp. An excerpt from that letter is below:

'I have encouraged my presidents NOT to become involved in issues other than critical funding issues that are so important to our students, universities and agencies...I cannot speak to the effect campus carry would have on other institutions and their students. However, I have complete trust and faith in our students. Having licensed gun owners in possession of legal weapons on our campuses does not raise safety concerns for me personally. The real question is this: "Do I trust my students, faculty and staff to work and live responsibly under the same laws at the university as they do at home?" Of course I do!'

Please contact your state Senator and urge him or her to support SB 11 and to resist any amendments that are not acceptable to the bill author, including moves to allow public universities to "opt-out" of the law and to carve out prohibited locations on campus that are not already off-limits to CHLs under state statutes. Contact information for your State Senator can be found here.

SB 17, sponsored by state Senator Craig Estes (R-Wichita Falls), removes the requirement that CHLs keep their handguns concealed and gives them the option of carrying them either wholly or partially visible in a belt or shoulder holster. SB 17 is identical to SB 346, which had been previously filed by Senator Estes. The language from SB 346 was re-filed and assigned a lower bill number by Lt. Governor Patrick, signifying that this issue is also of high importance in the Texas Senate. Forty-three states allow some form of open carry and Texas CHLs have earned this personal protection option after two decades of demonstrating lawful, responsible behavior. Please contact your state Senator to urge him or her to support SB 17 and to resist any amendments that are not acceptable to the bill author. Contact information for your State Senator can be found here.

SB 11 and SB 17 now move to the full Senate for consideration, though it will be a number of weeks before they are eligible for debate under legislative timelines. Please contact the following members of the Committee and thank them for supporting SB 11 and SB 17:

Senator Joan Huffman, Chair Phone: (512) 463-0117 Email

Senator Brian Birdwell (Sponsor of SB 11) Phone: (512) 463-0122 Email

Senator Brandon Creighton Phone: (512) 463-0104 Email

Senator Craig Estes (Sponsor of SB 17) Phone: (512) 463-0130 Email

Senator Troy Fraser Phone: (512) 463-0124 Email

Senator Jane Nelson Phone: (512) 463-0112 Email

Senator Charles Schwertner Phone: (512) 463-0105 Email

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