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Texas Senate approves bill allowing guns in locked cars on college campuses

A bill that would allow Texas college students to keep handguns locked in their cars in college campus parking lots easily passed the state Senate on Tuesday.

The bill, OK'd in a bipartisan 27-4 vote, would override rules by several state colleges and universities that prohibit guns on campuses.

During the debate on the Senate floor, Democratic Sen. Jose Rodriguez of El Paso argued the bill would lead to allowing guns in college classrooms. He later told, “I opposed the bill because, given today’s climate and the rise of crime on ours campuses, the last thing we need to do is pass a bill like this."

Supporters say the measure isn’t a traditional concealed weapons bill because the legislation would restrict students to keeping their guns in a locked vehicle. But Rodriguez says that would do little to deter a determined shooter.

“You allow it in the glove compartment of your car in the college campus and if you have a disgruntled student who wants to take (his or her) anger out on the teacher or an administrator, what’s going to stop the student from walking to the car and getting it?” Rodriguez said.

Republican Sen. Glenn Hegar, a supporter of the bill, says the current restrictions unfairly single out college students.

Guns in Texas play a big part in the Lone Star state’s culture, Rodriguez said. At the Texas Capitol, concealed handgun license holders are allowed to skip the metal detectors that others must go through to be allowed entry. Republican Gov. Rick Perry has been vocal about giving permit holders as much leeway as possible and has said permit holders should be able to carry guns in any public place.

Last year, lawmakers in the state pushed a plan to allow college students and professors with concealed handgun licenses the right to carry guns on campus but the measure failed.

This year’s bill is expected to go to the House on Saturday, and it is likely to pass.