Get PolitiFact in your inbox.

By W. Gardner Selby July 8, 2015

Proposal allowing handguns on campuses advances

At a Corpus Christi campaign stop in 2013, Greg Abbott promised that if elected governor, he would support a change in law allowing guns on college campuses.

And that's what Abbott did after fellow Republicans carried the change to his desk during the 2015 legislative session.

In his campaign's compendium of promises, Abbott said he was supportive of so-called campus carry at the option of boards of regents of public institutions of higher education and internal decision-making by private institutions. He noted that as of July 2013, Texas ranked among 22 states that barred concealed weapons from college campuses.

Allowing holders of concealed-weapon licenses "to carry weapons on campuses would make any person with nefarious intent aware that his intended victims might be equipped to respond in kind," Abbott said.

Senate bill passes into law

In February 2015, a Texas Senate panel voted 7-2 to move Senate Bill 11, authored by Sen. Brian Birdwell of Granbury and all but one fellow Senate Republican, toward consideration by the 31-member Senate. Birdwell's plan targeted existing law, which only allowed a holder of a concealed-weapon license to carry a handgun on campus grounds but not inside buildings.

And after the committee vote, we marked this an Abbott Promise IN THE WORKS.

In March, the Senate divided along party lines to send the proposal to the House. Birdwell, refusing proposed amendments pitched by Democrats as protective of students and faculty, said then: "I think it's time to treat our adult CHL holders as the adults they are. My concern is not to get guns on campus; my concern is expand the freedom of our most trustworthy citizens. Freedom is always precious."

The Senate-advanced plan would allow Texans who hold a concealed-handgun license to carry a weapon into dorms, classrooms and other sites, though private institutions could ban the practice — an opt-out measure meant to protect private property rights, Birdwell said.

In late May, it looked like House Democrats might succeed in stalling a House vote on the House version of SB 11. But shortly before a deadline after which the measure would have died with others, House Speaker Joe Straus, R-San Antonio, called for debate to end and a vote to take place. House members then voted 101-47 to give preliminary approval to its version, which would allow each college and university to regulate where guns may be excluded so long as firearms are not banned campus-wide. The House also adopted an amendment by Rep. Sarah Davis, R-Houston, to exempt health care-related institutions and the Texas Medical Center from campus carry.

Revisions weren't over.

The Senate refused to concur with the House changes, leading to a House-Senate conference panel to seek  common ground. The result was the version sent to Abbott, allowing concealed handguns into classrooms, dorms and buildings of public colleges and universities starting in August 2016.

Under the measure's provisions, which Abbott signed into law in June 2015, university presidents may establish rules concerning the storage of guns on campus. Also, the president or CEO of each state college or university is to set "reasonable rules" regarding the carrying of concealed handguns. The president or CEO "may not establish provisions that generally prohibit" handgun license holders from carrying a gun on campus, the law states, though the president or officer "may amend the provisions as necessary for campus safety."

The law applies to community and junior colleges starting in August 2017.

We're marking this an Abbott PROMISE KEPT.

Promise Kept — Promises earn this rating when the original promise is mostly or completely fulfilled.

Our March 3, 2015 update:

At a Corpus Christi stop in 2013, Greg Abbott promised that if elected, he would support a change in law allowing guns on college campuses.

In February 2015, a Texas Senate panel voted 7-2 to move such a proposal toward consideration by the 31-member Senate. Along the same lines, the Senate State Affairs Committee sent the Senate a proposal to permit handguns to be openly carried in public.

Reacting to the votes, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick said: "We are now one step closer to passing these two historic bills out of the Senate."

Our Sources

News story, "Gubernatorial candidate Abbott calls for greater privacy protections, legalizing open carry," the Associated Press, Nov. 14, 2013

Document, "Allow CHL holders to carry weapons on campus at institutions of higher education," from Greg Abbott's Bicentennial Blueprint, Oct. 28, 2013

News story, "Texas open carry and campus carry bills advance to Senate floor," Dallas Morning News, Feb. 12, 2015, last updated Feb. 13, 2015

News story, "Gubernatorial candidate Abbott calls for greater privacy protections, legalizing open carry," the Associated Press, Nov. 14, 2013

Document, "Bicentennial Blueprint, Greg Abbott's Working Texans Plan," Oct. 28, 2013

Texas legislation, Senate Bill 11, 2015 legislative session, Texas Legislative Council (accessed July 6, 2015)

News stories, "Senate sets hearings on open carry, campus carry bills," Austin American-Statesman, posted online Feb. 9, 2015; "Texas Senate approves campus carry bill," Statesman, posted online March 18, 2015; "Texas Senate sends campus gun bill to House," Statesman, posted online March 19, 2015; "House abruptly approves campus carry gun bill, just before deadline," Statesman, posted online May 26, 2015, updated May 27, 2015;  "Texas Senate approves guns on campus bill," Statesman, posted online May 30, 2015

Latest Fact-checks