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Five Days Before Latest College Shooting, TX Legislator Introduced ALEC/NRA Bill to Allow Guns on Campus

Brendan Fischer

Students gathered Tuesday after the shooting at the North Harris campus of Lone Star College, on the outskirts of Houston. (Jason Fochtman/The Courier of Montgomery County, via Associated Press)

Just days before three people were shot in an altercation on a college campus in Texas, fourteen Texas state Senators co-sponsored a National Rifle Association-backed bill to prohibit colleges from restricting concealed handguns on campuses. The legislation closely resembles a "model" adopted by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).

On January 22, an altercation at the Lone Star College campus in Houston led to gunfire. According to initial reports, one man involved in the fight was shot, and two bystanders were caught in the crossfire. Both suspects have been apprehended; one of the men had a student identification card.

On January 17, five days before the shooting, Texas State Senator Brian Birdwell (R) introduced  SB 182, the "Campus Personal Protection Act," to require all colleges and technical schools to allow concealed handguns on campus for permit holders. The NRA promptly issued a release applauding Birdwell and the bill's thirteen co-sponsors, and urging Texans to contact their legislators in support of the bill.

ALEC-NRA Campus Personal ProtectionSB 182 closely resembles the ALEC "model" Campus Personal Protection Act. See CMD's side-by-side comparison of the bills here.

In 2008, the ALEC Criminal Justice Task Force unanimously approved the Campus Personal Protection Act as a model for introduction in other states. The NRA pushed the legislation after the Virginia Tech massacre. 

"This Act will officially become ALEC 'Model Legislation' in 30 days if there is no objection from ALEC's Board of Directors," the NRA noted in its press release. Koch Industries was on the ALEC Board of Directors in 2008 (and remains on the board today); despite this, the company has publicly declared it "has had no role in any ALEC-sponsored legislation concerning gun laws." 

ALEC claims only the public sector board members give the final approval to model bills, but board documents indicate the public and private sector are treated as members of a single board; all board members see the bills ALEC adopts and promotes. CMD has documented how the NRA's agenda has thrived while Koch has sat on the ALEC board, with ALEC approving "Stand Your Ground" legislation and bills to thwart gun buyback programs, among other "model" bills.

The ALEC board officially adopted the Campus Personal Protection Act as a template for state law 30 days later.

More Guns Make Students Safer?

Versions of the legislation were introduced in Texas in 2009 and 2011 but failed to pass.

When Sen. Birdwell again introduced the Campus Personal Protection Act last Thursday, he said the bill "isn't just about the firearm. It’s about trusting citizens with their God-given, constitutional rights.” 

"We've seen the tragedies that occur when law-abiding citizens are forced to disarm while violent offenders break the law," said Sen. Donna Campbell, another sponsor of the bill.

But the Lone Star College shooting provides another example of the tragedies that can occur in places like schools when individuals are armed and tensions rise. The tragedy in Houston appeared to have resulted from a fight between two people. Because the individuals involved in the altercation were armed, two other innocent bystanders have been shot.    

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