AUSTIN (CN) - A Texas state senator introduced a bill that would allow students with licenses to bring concealed handguns onto public college campuses.
Thirteen other senators have signed on to S.B. 182 , by state Sen. Brian Birdwell, R-Granbury. Granbury calls it the Campus Personal Protection Act.
"For me, this isn't just about the firearm," Birdwell said in a statement. "It's about trusting citizens with their God-given, constitutional rights."
The bill prohibits public colleges from adopting rules or regulations prohibiting students, faculty or staff with concealed handgun licenses from carrying guns on campus.
Birdwell says his bill "affirms private property rights" by allowing private colleges to bar concealed weapons.
It states that private schools may "establish rules, regulations, or other provisions concerning the storage of handguns in dormitories or other residential facilities that are owned or leased and operated by the institution and located on the campus of the institution."
And it says that existing laws should not be violated: for instance, colleges may post notices that athletic events and sporting venues are off-limits for concealed weapons.
Schools may clarify that places that ban guns under state law - such as bars, hospitals, K-12 schools and churches - will remain off-limits to concealed-carry license holders even if such places are on campus.
Schools would be immune from liability for the actions of license-holders on campus, except in cases where private schools have adopted administrative prohibitions.
"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 in his statement. "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."
To get a concealed-carry license in Texas, a citizen must be at least 21 years old, must pass background checks and must complete a minimum 10 hours of training, among other things.
Four years ago, community college students in Birdwell's district protested laws banning license-holders from bringing guns to campus.
In 2009, students at Tarrant County College sued the school after their group, Students for Concealed Carry on Campus, was prevented from protesting on campus.
The students wanted to wear empty holsters and pass out leaflets. They objected to the school's demand to confine the protest to a designated free-speech zone in front of the library, and to ban the passing out of leaflets and imposition of a permit system.
In October 2010, U.S. District Judge Terry R. Means in Fort Worth awarded the students $236,329 in attorneys' fees: $88,500 went to attorney David Broiles, $62,379 to the ACLU, and $85,450 to Kirkley & Berryman.
After a three-day trial, Means ruled that the school's "disruptive activities" rule that banned the wearing of empty holsters on campus and passing out leaflets in class and in hallways was unconstitutional.
Means also found the school's "co-sponsorship provision," which prohibited students from engaging in speech on campus that was cosponsored by a nonstudent or off-campus organization, in this case the Students for Concealed Carry on Campus, was unconstitutionally overbroad.
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