Editorials

Private school gun mandate must fail

It’s a common occurrence in the Texas Legislature to see end-of-session antics aimed at killing bills that likely would pass if they were to reach a vote before various deadlines take effect. In fact, many people say legislative sessions are geared more toward killing bills than passing them.

The pressures are so great that, whether through attaching a dead bill as an amendment to a live one or through questionable behind-the-scenes deal-making, the result is simply bad legislation.

That’s clearly the case with the so-called “campus carry” bill, Senate Bill 11, passed preliminarily by the House late Tuesday night and finally by that body Wednesday.

As passed by a 102-40 vote, the bill requires that holders of concealed handgun permits be allowed to carry their guns on the campuses of Texas colleges and universities — not just public institutions, but private and religious ones also.

It’s not that campus carry itself is bad. Proponents of the legislation make a good point that concealed weapons permit holders have shown themselves to be a pretty trustworthy lot.

But the last thing the House did Tuesday night before giving initial approval to the bill was to OK an amendment including private and religious institutions in the mandate.

Just as conservative lawmakers and state leaders have demanded that some restrictions on guns be removed this session in the name of Second Amendment rights, they should also have a deep and abiding respect for private property rights.

Instructing a school like Texas Christian University or Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary or Texas Wesleyan University that it must allow guns on campus is just as wrong as telling people they must allow visitors to bring guns in their homes or businesses.

That requirement was not part of SB11 when it passed the Senate March 19.

The next logical step is to send the bill to a conference committee. If SB11 is to be approved by that committee, the mandate on private institutions must be removed.

If not, the bill must fail.

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