Texas Senate gives preliminary approval to campus carry

The Texas Senate is poised to pass campus carry sending the legislation to the House for consideration.

After several hours of back and forth debate on the floor in a 20-11 vote down party lines senators gave preliminary approval to the bill.

State Sen. Brian Birdwell, R-Granbury, filed the bill and defended it for several hours Wednesday.

"It's meant to expand personal freedom of CHL holders on public property or the opportunity to consult with those private institutions," said Birdwell.

The bill, he says, protects second amendment rights and property rights. It would require public universities to allow concealed handguns on campuses.

Senate Democrats started the debate in an effort to derail the bill. They raised concerns about why university leaders couldn't make the decision about guns on their own.

"I'm on the other side. What is your rational for the bill?" questioned Sen. Rodney Ellis, D-Houston.

"My concern is to expand freedom of the most trustworthy citizens to access property they as citizens own," replied Birdwell.

"I think we have to respect chancellors to run their schools," said Sen. John Whitmire, D-Houston. Critics of the legislation include University of Texas Chancellor William McRaven but his counterpart at Texas A&M doesn't see the same concerns.

Sen. Kirk Watson, D-Austin, clarified that open carry would not be legal on campuses.

The discussion comes one day after the Senate approved open carry sending the bill to the house for consideration. It's the first week lawmakers can vote on bills and they didn't waste any time pulling the trigger on guns.

"It says the leadership is listening to the people in the state of Texas," said Birdwell.

"It's a bad bill and it's a shame that the issue has become politicized," said Whitmire.

According to the Associated Press at least 20 states allow some form of campus carry.