Statement of Senator Rodney Ellis on SB 354: By a 4-2 vote, the Senate Criminal Justice Committee passed SB 354, Guns on Campus

(AUSTIN)—”This bill will do nothing to improve the safety of students on campus and could, in fact, make dangerous situations that much more deadly by creating confusion for law enforcement. We don’t need to incentivize campus Rambos.

“When there is an alcohol-related tragedy on campus, you don’t hear claims that giving students more beer is the solution. Yet, when it comes to gun-related incidents, we seem to think that putting more guns in the mix will lead to a good, rather than bloody outcome.

“As it is today, campus law enforcement knows that if they see someone on campus with a gun, that person is violating the law and needs to be treated as a suspect. Under SB 354, we are going to make it much more difficult for law enforcement to know who the bad actors are.

“Senate Bill 354 is a bad solution to a serious problem. It makes us feel like we’ve gotten tough — deputizing students — but the fact is that the universities don’t want it, the students don’t want it and law enforcement doesn’t want it because they know it will not make our campuses safer.

“If we are going to go down this road of more guns on campus, then we need to allow the students on a campus to make the choice for themselves. Students must approve fee increases for a student center or gym, so we ought to let them approve whether they want their fellow students to be strapped in Econ 101. As of now, under this bill, private colleges are allowed to opt-out, yet students at public schools do not have the same right of refusal.

“If Baylor or Rice can opt-out and say ‘no guns on campus’ then the students at UT, A&M, UH and other public colleges must have that same right.”

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