Second Amendment

public-safetyI believe in the Second Amendment right to keep and carry arms. And I would fight to ensure that that right, like all the other rights in our Bill of Rights, is protected. However, I also believe in common-sense handgun regulation that could prevent accidental deaths, murders, and suicides. Implementing common-sense handgun regulation is entirely consistent with the Second Amendment. Writing for the majority in the District of Columbia v. Heller, which expressly recognized an “individual right” to possess a firearm unconnected with service in a militia, the late Justice Antonin Scalia wrote that the Second Amendment does not guarantee a right to keep and carry “any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose.” Indeed, the Court expressly approved of states forbidding the carrying of firearms in “sensitive” places such as schools. Unfortunately, incumbent politicians who want to get re-elected in “safe” conservative districts always leave that part out of the Heller opinion.

During the 2015 Legislative Session, a bill known as “Campus Carry,” which allows concealed handgun license holders to take handguns into college classrooms, was passed. Despite overwhelming opposition by all of the Texas Universities, law enforcement officials and many Texas gun-rights advocates, every single Republican in both the Texas House and Senate, including the incumbent state representative for House District 47, Paul Workman, voted in favor of the bill. The Republican super-majority claimed they were justified in refusing to acknowledge the public safety concerns raised by the experts and a large number of their Texas constituents because they believed they were protecting our Second Amendment right to “keep and bear arms.”This is an example of extreme legislation that an out-of-state lobby was able to push through by threatening incumbents with running and funding primary opponents against them.

Campus carry is a bad bill for House District 47 constituents who are either enrolled themselves, or have kids who are enrolled, in Texas public universities. Government is supposed to balance individual rights. In the case of guns in college classrooms there are two individual rights that need to be observed: A First Amendment right to free speech and a Second Amendment right to keep and carry a gun. Colleges are places where young people go to learn. Students are encouraged by their professors to explore the parameters of their belief system by taking positions on important issues that are not necessarily popular or widely accepted so that the issue can be discussed and debated. Sometimes the topics of discussion elicit emotional responses. I believe that if concealed handguns are present, students and/or professors would be less likely to adopt opposing or unpopular views for purposes of discussion. When this happens, it interferes with the learning purpose of the classroom. Consequently, I believe that in an academic setting, an individual right to free speech outweighs an individual right to keep and carry a handgun. Consistent with the Second Amendment, Texas can, and should, exclude handguns from all of our academic institutions.