AUSTIN – The Texas chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America along with gun violence survivors, professors, students, law enforcement and other advocates gathered at the state capitol today to testify as part of the Texas Senate Committee on State Affairs’ public hearing on guns on campus and open carry expansion. The two bills discussed were Senate Bill 11 (S.B. 11), a guns on campus bill, which would force public universities to allow students, faculty, staff and anyone else with a license to carry concealed handguns on public college campuses, and Senate Bill 17 (S.B. 17), an open carry expansion bill that allows for the open carry of handguns in Texas.
Lt. Governor Patrick prioritized both of these bills by scheduling them for the first State Affairs Committee hearing this session. Patrick’s push for S.B. 11 came on the heels of open carry extremists threatening Patrick for questioning whether open carry had the votes to pass this session. Given the heat, Patrick took to his Facebook page to appease extremist gun groups and stated that, “Regarding the Second Amendment, our first priority this session is to pass Campus Carry.”
Moms and survivors urged Texas lawmakers to vote against guns on campus in the wake of overwhelming testimony from law enforcement, gun violence survivors, students, university officials, and parents today.
“Even as a survivor of the worst mass shooting in American history, I can tell you forcing universities and college campuses to allow guns on campus is wrong—colleges and universities are and should remain safe places with low levels of violence,” said Colin Goddard, a Virginia Tech shooting survivor. “There is no research to say that adding guns to our campuses save lives from gun violence—and in a country where 86 people are shot and killed every day, we ought to be focusing on keeping guns out of the wrong hands, not adding more guns to our educational institutions.”
“Feeling safe on campus was non-negotiable when choosing a college, especially after my brother was killed at Sandy Hook Elementary on December 14, 2012,” said Danielle Vabner, UT-Austin Junior and sister of Noah Pozner, one of 20 first graders shot and killed at Sandy Hook. “Placing guns on campus would dramatically change this, and most students agree with me. A 2013 poll of students found that 78 percent opposed allowing concealed handguns on campus, and 79 percent said that they would not feel safe if faculty, students, or visitors were allowed to bring concealed guns onto their campuses.”
Senate Bill 17 (S.B. 17), an open carry expansion bill that allows for the open carry of handguns in Texas was also prioritized by Lt. Governor Patrick and discussed today. Open carry expansion has been a heated topic this session and been a focus of extended media coverage of the controversy. Today, gun-owning members of Moms Demand Action testified against the expansion of open carry alongside law enforcement and others opposed to the bill.
“As a gun owner, I know we can respect the second amendment while also supporting common sense legislation that will ensure the safety of those around us,” said Angela Turner, a gun-owner and mother from San Antonio. “Moms refuse to have to consider whether people who are open carrying around us are doing so because they are members of law enforcement sworn to protect us, or if they are activists making a political statement, or dangerous criminals we should run from. Moms demand the safety of our children and families in our communities; encountering the open carry of guns everywhere is not a step towards public safety.”
“Texas already has a way for those who value responsible gun-ownership and the security and tactical advantage their concealed firearm offers them, to carry their weapons,” said Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo. “There is no justification or need for Open Carry in our great state, especially in our urban areas. Open-carry will unnecessarily make people targets, create confusion in highly volatile situations and ultimately will make all less safe. Should this law pass, Texans will have to pay for extensive training for police officers on tactics for responding and operating in this new environment, not to mention the cost of responding to calls for service open carry is sure to generate.”