Austin, TX – February 22 – During the 2011 Texas Legislative Session, Senator Rodney Ellis (D-Houston) announced on the Senate floor that, according to the administrators of colleges in his district, then-pending legislation to legalize the licensed concealed carry of handguns on Texas college campuses would cost those institutions millions of dollars in increased insurance premiums. That claim was quickly refuted (http://is.gd/t3CvDt) but not before the fabricated specter of an “unfunded mandate” succeeded in derailing the bill in question. In light of this history, it’s no surprise that college administrators, again aided by Senator Ellis, are once again warning of expenses that exist only in their imaginations.
According to an article (http://is.gd/YWO9wX) published in the Sunday, February 22, edition of the Houston Chronicle, Texas’s public colleges believe that Senate Bill 11—the “campus carry” bill—would cost them an aggregate of $47 million over six years. Not surprisingly, most of that purported cost would be borne by campuses in Senator Ellis’s own district. Reportedly, $22 million (approximately 47%) would be needed by the on-campus police department at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, for “the installation of gun safes and lockers, additional administrative personnel and to fund ‘de-escalation’ and ‘judgment’ training for staff and on-campus security.” That’s $6.5 million per year, over the initial six years, for an institution (http://is.gd/hFPTly) that serves fewer than 6,500 trainees (mostly graduate students and post-doctoral residents and researchers), that offers no on-campus housing, and that would (under SB 11) retain the right to prohibit guns in any facility functioning as part of a licensed hospital.
The University of Houston System, which also operates primarily in Senator Ellis’s district, claims it would spend $3 million in the first year and $1.2 million each year thereafter, to “create, maintain, and staff secured weapons storage facilities in nine dormitories.” A cursory review of publicly available statistics from the University of Houston System suggests that the entire UH System houses fewer than 4,800 students in dorms, meaning that—based on the rate (http://is.gd/oAAcj9) of concealed handgun licensure among persons of typical undergraduate age (18-23)—the university system would be spending that money to secure fewer than two-dozen handguns per year (the actual number would likely be much lower due to the fact that the vast majority of dorm residents are freshmen and sophomores, most of whom are too young to obtain a concealed handgun license). Madison Welch, Southwest regional director for Students for Concealed Carry, commented, “If the University of Houston System can’t figure out a way to secure handguns for less than $50,000 per handgun per year, they have much bigger problems than campus carry.”
Nothing in Senate Bill 11 (http://is.gd/1DnM1m) would require universities to create or staff “secured weapons storage facilities.” The bill simply states that institutions of higher education would be allowed to “establish rules, regulations, or other provisions concerning the storage of handguns in dormitories or other residential facilities that are owned or leased and operated by the institution and located on the campus of the institution.” Based on the wording of that provision, universities could presumably require the handful of dorm residents who possess a valid concealed handgun license (CHL) to check their firearms at the campus police station before turning in for the night. Or UH could do what the University of Colorado System does (http://is.gd/9rWw1b) and offer only one gun-friendly residence hall per campus (the UH System appears to have only two campuses with dormitories). Alternatively, UH could simply continue its current policy (per state law) of allowing CHL holders living in on-campus housing to store their guns in their cars. As for the need to provide additional training for staff and on-campus security, Madison Welch noted:
For more than nineteen years, it has been legal for a CHL holder to park her car in a campus parking garage, take a leisurely stroll through campus, and stop to read a book under one of the trees in the middle of the campus quad, all while carrying a concealed handgun. Yet we’re expected to believe that letting that same license holder carry her concealed handgun into a campus building would necessitate millions of dollars in additional training for the same security officers who didn’t need any additional training to protect the parking garage, the sidewalk, or the quad. Either universities are fishing for funding for security improvements they should have implemented decades ago, or they and their friend Senator Ellis are once again relying on fuzzy math and fuzzy ethics to derail good legislation.
Madison D. Welch, Southwest Regional Director, Students for Concealed Carry (SCC)
ABOUT STUDENTS FOR CONCEALED CARRY — Students for Concealed Carry (SCC) is a national, non-partisan, grassroots organization comprising college students, faculty, staff, and concerned citizens who believe that holders of state-issued concealed handgun licenses should be allowed the same measure of personal protection on college campuses that current laws afford them virtually everywhere else. SCC is not affiliated with the NRA or any other organization. For more information on SCC, visit ConcealedCampus.org or Facebook.com/ConcealedCampus.