Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Texas Senate approves allowing guns in college classrooms

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Guns in schools

Until now, bills allowing the on-campus carry of firearms have always been shot down thanks to a (sadly shrinking) majority of rational people who realize that allowing youths to bring lethal weapons to public gathering areas for hundreds and thousands of other students isn’t exactly the wisest idea. But now, in its neverending venture to prove itself as the mecca of gun nuts everywhere, Texas has decided that guns in public schools is perfectly okay, and the GOP-dominated State Senate has resorted to a cheap tactic that made it all but impossible for even opponents of the measure to oppose it:

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) - Republicans in the Texas Senate on Monday approved allowing concealed handgun license holders to carry weapons into public college buildings and classrooms, moving forward on a measure that had stalled until supporters tacked it on to a universities spending bill.

Sen. Jeff Wentworth, R-San Antonio, had been unable to muster the votes he needed under Senate rules to pass the issue as its own bill after the measure met stiff resistance from higher education officials, notably from within the University of Texas system.

The measure seemed all but assured easy passage when the legislative session began in January. The Senate had passed a similar bill in 2009 and about 90 lawmakers in the 150-member House had signed on in support this year. But the bill stalled on its first three votes in the Senate and took some maneuvering by Wentworth to get it through.


The Senate's 12 Democrats had mostly worked as a block to stop the measure but were powerless to stop it on Monday when all it took was a simple majority in the 31-member chamber to get it added to the spending bill as an amendment.

Sen. Jeff Wentworth (R-TX)
Sen. Jeff Wentworth (R-TX)

School funding … guns … sorry, I can’t see the relation, there. Of course, there isn’t any, as attaching the amendment to the funding bill was just another underhanded trick to getting such fundamentally wrong legislation to progress through the Legislature. It’s the kind of stunt Republicans just love to pull when their insane measures can’t get passed by their own merits: Have them piggyback on other bills that can’t be turned down in themselves, and there you go, a perfect (and perfectly sleazy) method of seeing even the most vile and asinine legislation soar through without a hitch.

Of course, you can probably predict the sort of arguments given in support of allowing this:

Hearings on the measure were dominated by powerful testimony from supporters who had been raped or assaulted on college campuses, and several people who had survived the 2007 mass shooting at Virginia Tech University when a gunman killed 32 people.

Sen. Judith Zaffirini, D-Laredo, who was a student at the University of Texas in 1966 when sniper Charles Whitman killed 12 people and wounded dozens of others, vigorously argued against the guns measure.

She predicted mass chaos if police respond to a call and find several people with guns drawn.

"I can't imagine the horrors if this passes," Zaffirini said.

Wentworth was unmoved. He recalled the shooting at Virginia Tech and said he wants to give students a chance to defend themselves.

"There was no one there to defend themselves in a gun-free zone that was a victim-rich zone," Wentworth said. "I'm trying to avoid that type of situation."

Sen. Judith Zaffirini (D-TX)
Sen. Judith Zaffirini (D-TX)

Rape and various other assaults are bad enough already. Adding guns into the mix, with involved parties suffering from heightened levels of stress and fear and anger, is hardly going to make any of these already terrible and volatile situations end any better. And the argument that school shootings would have less bloody outcomes if only students were allowed to defend themselves with their own firearms is as absurd and endlessly debunked as they come. It turns out that giving untrained, unqualified and terrorized kids the ability to blow other kids’ brains out in situations where panic and chaos reign is a rather bad idea.

As usual, it’s opponents like Sen. Zaffirini who have it right. Students are not cops or agents who’ve received proper training to learn how to use their weapons effectively and moderate their force. They cannot be expected to respond well in the haze of mindless fear and confusion that would erupt if a shooting broke out from around them. The only possible thing that could result from a measure like this is more bloodshed, not less.

But then, Republicans seem to make it their ideological mission to disregard human life these days.

(via @todayspolitics)