Texas Bill Aimed at Allowing Pistol-Packing College Students

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Just last September, a sophomore at the University of Texas named Colton Tooley walked onto campus with a semi-automatic weapon, opened fire at one of the school's most populated libraries, then turned the assault rifle on himself and took his own life.

Students bearing arms with intent to harm are not isolated incidents these days, with Seung-Hui Cho's murder of 32 on the Virginia Tech campus in April 2007 resulting in the greatest loss of life.

Now members of the Texas Legislature are considering a bill that would allow students with Concealed Handgun Licenses (CHLs) to carry weapons on campus. While there are currently three versions of the bill in the House, the one that is expected to pass is scheduled to be voted on as early as this week. More than half of the Texas representatives co-authored the bill.

Not surprisingly, students are divided on the issue.

"Guns won't help contribute to a positive learning environment for students," UT senior Natalie Butler wrote in an e-mail to ABCNews.com. "Though the vast majority of CHL holders are completely safe, I don't like the idea of increasing access to guns for those college students who might not be prepared to handle them."

Clayton Armstrong, a Texas A&M University senior with a CHL, takes a different approach. He says he would feel safer if students were allowed to carry on campus.

"I think there is a psychological benefit to students as well as a psychological deterrent to the potential threats," Armstrong says. "I believe it would give a feeling of safety."

And Texas State Senator Jeffrey Wentworth (R) says that's exactly what the bill was designed to do.

"It's a matter of self-defense. I'm trying to save lives on college campuses," Wentworth told ABCNews.com. "People who are mentally deranged and suicidal come onto campus with guns and start shooting innocent students like sitting ducks."

But Colin Goddard, who was wounded in the Virginia Tech shooting and now works with the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, says that allowing guns on campus won't provide a defense to students in emergency situations.

"I Didn't Know What Was Going on Until I Got Shot"

"You have no idea what a situation like this is like," Goddard told ABCNews.com. "There was never a time that I thought I could have saved the day or defended myself. I didn't know what was going on until I got shot."

Goddard claims that because students aren't trained for emergency situations, they don't respond as quickly as police officers or other trained officials would. Goddard says that he didn't have time to react before he got shot, let alone attempt to defend himself.

"There was a girl in my class who never got out of her chair," Goddard says.

Many professors expressed similar concerns. They fear that students with CHLs, who receive only 10 hours of training, would only make matters worse.

"Anyone who thinks they can protect themselves and others by playing police officer or soldier is quite mistaken," Benjamin Gregg, a social science professor at UT, said. "Those taking the bullets are more likely to be innocent persons misidentified by self-appointed vigilantes than any intended criminal target."

Split-Second Decisions

His colleague, history professor H.W. Brands concurred. "If -- heaven forbid -- a shooter did come into my class, I wouldn't want to have to worry about getting caught in a crossfire."

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