Campus gun law bill under review in Texas House

(AP) John Woods sometimes sits in a classroom at the University of Texas and wonders what would happen if somebody walked in and started shooting.

It’s the kind of scenario he’s imagined since April 2007, when he was a student at Virginia Tech and his girlfriend and several other people he knew were gunned down in the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history.

There were times when Woods thought to himself that maybe he should get a gun.

“Then I learned pretty fast that wouldn’t solve anything,” said Woods, who is now a graduate student at UT. “The idea that somebody could stop a school shooting with a gun is impossible. It’s reactive, not preventative.”

Today, Woods is among the leaders in a fight against bills in the Texas Legislature that would allow licensed concealed gun carriers to bring their weapons to school.

The House version of the bill, sponsored by Rep. Joe Driver, a Garland Republican, is scheduled for a public hearing Monday in the Public Safety Committee.

Supporters say the bills would do two things: protect the rights of those licensed to carry concealed weapons, and help prevent another massacre on the scale of what happened at Virginia Tech and another shooting last year at Northern Illinois University.

Texas issued 73,090 licenses in fiscal year 2008. The state requires applicants pass a training course, pass a criminal background check and be at least 21 years old. Texas campuses are gun-free zones.

“These are individuals who are already licensed and allowed to carry weapons. What marks the imaginary line of college campuses?” said Katie Kasprzak, a recent Texas State University graduate and spokeswoman for Students for Concealed Carry on Campus, a group that claims more than 37,000 members.

Kasprzak has a concealed weapons license. If another campus shooting started, “Would you rather sit and just take shot for shot or would you rather have a chance to fight back?” she said.

At Virginia Tech, 32 people were gunned down before the shooter killed himself. The gunman at Northern Illinois killed five and wounded 18.

Sen. Jeff Wentworth, R-San Antonio, sponsor of the Senate bill, said students, faculty and staff are “sitting ducks” if someone starts blasting.

“I have no desire to wake up one morning and read in the newspaper, or hear on the radio, or watch on television a news report that 32 Texas college students were gunned down like sitting ducks by some deranged gunman,” Wentworth said.

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