Well a step in the right direction! Senate OKs guns at Texas colleges | Top Stories | Star-Telegram.com AUSTIN — The Senate gave preliminary approval Tuesday to legislation that would allow concealed handguns at colleges and universities, but with less than two weeks left in the 2009 Legislature, the bill’s ultimate outcome is uncertain. "That’s the real question. I don’t know the answer to that," said Sen. Jeff Wentworth, R-San Antonio, when asked whether there is enough time to win final passage in the Senate and rush the bill through the House before the June 1 adjournment. The bill would allow Texans who have concealed-handgun permits to carry the weapons into college and university buildings, classrooms and dormitories. Wentworth said permit holders can currently carry guns onto campuses, but not into buildings. The measure would apply to all colleges and universities, but private institutions, such as Texas Christian University and Texas Wesleyan University, could opt out of the requirements and ban handguns. State-supported institutions, such as the University of Texas at Arlington and the University of North Texas in Denton, would be required to comply. The 20-10 vote came as somewhat of a surprise since gun legislation appeared in peril in the closing days of the session. Sens. Jane Nelson, R-Flower Mound, and Chris Harris, R-Arlington, voted for the bill, while Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth, opposed it. Davis said she believes that the governing bodies of individual colleges and universities should get to decide whether to allow guns. 'Sitting ducks’ Wentworth pointed out that the bill would apply only to those who meet the requirements for carrying concealed handguns in Texas, meaning that no one under 21 could legally carry weapons on campuses. It would thus apply primarily to seniors, graduate students, faculty members and administrators and not to younger undergraduates, Wentworth said. Countering arguments that the bill would pose a safety threat, Wentworth contended that permitting guns on campus could help spare Texas from campus violence, such as the slayings of 32 students by a mentally unstable student at Virginia Tech in April 2007. "College kids can get picked off like sitting ducks like they were in Virginia Tech," Wentworth said. Campus concerns But campus officials have expressed concern about injecting guns into populous and socially combustible campus settings. The University of Texas System, with 200,000 students at 15 institutions, warned that the "challenges" inherent in student life — such as stress, immaturity, alcohol, personal conflicts and strong emotions — might not be the ideal climate for weapons. Kristin Sullivan, assistant vice president for media relations at UT-Arlington, said the university "supports" the position of UT System Chancellor Francisco G. Cigarroa, who expressed concerns about the legislation in a statement this month. "There are many stresses that sometimes can lead to depression and labile emotions," Cigarroa said. "Individuals with concealed handguns on campus would make it very difficult for law enforcement officers to correctly identify an active shooter or shooters during a crisis situation." TCU, Baylor University and Southern Methodist University have also expressed concerns about the bill. Don Mills, TCU’s vice chancellor for student affairs, has said that the legislation "would make the campus less safe rather than more safe."