AUSTIN, Tex. The Texas Senate on Monday passed a measure that would make the Lone Star State the second after Utah to specifically allow guns on college campuses.
The proposal, which would allow concealed handgun license holders to carry guns into buildings at public colleges, now heads to the Texas House, where it has broad support.
The Senate author, Republican Jeff Wentworth of San Antonio, said that his proposal would make college campuses safer.
"My goal this whole time is to put doubt in the mind of the shooter that, 'Well, maybe I shouldn't go on that campus and try to take a bunch of kids out,'" Wentworth said after the measure passed.
But Democrat Judith Zaffirini of Laredo, Chairwoman of the Senate Committee on Higher Education, said the proposal is dangerous.
"I think there will be increased violence and unnecessary tragedies because of this bill," Zaffirini told Reuters.
University of Texas System Chancellor Francisco Cigarroa told Governor Rick Perry in a letter this year that the presence of concealed weapons "will make a campus a less safe environment."
The legacy of the 1966 University of Texas shooting -- when Charles Whitman climbed to the top of the UT Tower and fatally shot 13 people and an unborn child -- still looms over the Austin campus.
Wentworth tacked the measure onto a budget-related education bill on Monday after he was unable earlier in the session to get enough support to bring the measure up as a stand-alone bill.
Texas was one of 22 states that banned carrying concealed weapons on college campuses as of late March, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
Arizona's Republican governor, Jan Brewer, last month vetoed a bill that would have allowed guns on college campuses.
That's unlikely to happen in Texas, where Perry, also a Republican, believes people with concealed handgun licenses and proper training should be able to carry their weapon with them anywhere in the state, his spokeswoman has said.
The Texas Senate on Monday also passed a measure that would allow state lawmakers to carry concealed handguns into places where such weapons are not now allowed, such as churches and hospitals. That proposal now goes to the House.
(Editing by Jerry Norton)