Concealed Guns on Campus a Fait Accompli?

Happiness is...: Two years ago, when the Texas Legislature took up the important question of whether college students who possess concealed handgun permits should be allowed to carry weapons on campus, Buzz carefully examined the issue for 20 seconds before weighing in with our usual carefully crafted argument. To wit: Increasing the rate of gun possession among confined groups of stressed-out, emotionally immature binge drinkers? What an effing dumb idea.

To which many thoughtful commenters replied: No it's not. You're effing dumb.

Yep, sometimes reading the Observer is like reading The Economist, ain't it?

We mention this in light of an Associated Press report this week that said a big chunk of the Legislature this session is behind bills similar to those that failed in 2009. Governor Rick Perry is game to support the idea, so it's pretty much a fait accompli, the story suggested. Buzz called Brian Malte, director of legislative services for the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence, the anti-gun group in Washington, and asked him flat out: "Ready to give up yet?"

Nope. In fact, Malte was optimistic that the measure's passage is not a done deal, which suggests to Buzz that either he doesn't come to Texas much or he has abundant amounts of the optimism that anyone passionately favoring gun control in this country must possess to get out of bed in the morning. Still, he had his reasons.

"[Similar] legislation has failed 43 times in 23 states since Virginia Tech," Malte says, referring to the 2007 campus mass murder that claimed 32 lives. "Every time somebody said this is a done deal over the last three years, it was defeated."

When push comes to floor vote, even pro-gun legislators tend to shy when actually faced with passing campus concealed-carry laws, Malte says. Media attention helps, he adds. As more parents, students and voters learn about the bills, they get hit with the "Are you kidding me?" syndrome and speak up. "They think it's the craziest thing in the world."

The Brady Center recently brought Colin Goddard, the center's assistant director of federal legislation and a wounded Virginia Tech survivor, to Austin to lobby against the bills. Malte says that's the sort of thing that could sway even Texas legislators to vote against the bills. Of course, since he doesn't live here, he probably doesn't get the frisson of fear that strikes Texans who hear the words "Texas Legislature" and "craziest thing in the world" in the same conversation.

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Patrick Williams is editor-in-chief of the Dallas Observer.
Contact: Patrick Williams