The Baylor University Student Senate approved a resolution supporting concealed handgun carry on campus in hopes of persuading the administration to implement the measure.
The resolution favors allowing students, faculty, staff and guests who hold concealed handgun licenses to carry their weapons on campus.
Student Body President Dominic Edwards has seven days to decide whether to veto the resolution.
A two-thirds majority of the Senate then would have to vote to override the president’s veto and send it to Baylor’s administration for consideration and study.
But ultimately, the campus carry initiative would go into effect only if Baylor’s board of regents approves a final resolution.
The university generally has been opposed to concealed carry.
Baylor spokeswoman Lori Fogleman has said the university thinks allowing weapons on campus would create new security challenges.
To obtain a concealed handgun license, a person must be at least age 21, pass a criminal background check and take four to six hours of gun safety training, according to the Texas Department of Public Safety.
Senior Gannon McCahill, 20, who wrote the resolution, said he became interested in the issue after a shooting in June at Seattle Pacific University near his hometown.
One student was killed and two others were injured in the shooting.
“Our whole purpose of this meeting and this bill was to increase safety on campus, and the best way to do that, as we see it, is to allow concealed carry,” McCahill said.
“Regardless of how great our police department is, which it is a very highly ranked and well-respected police department, they can’t protect us in a situation where there’s a shooter in a classroom and the door’s locked.”
The student senate debated the resolution for about 40 minutes before taking a vote closed to media and nonmembers.
Senate President Lawren Kinghorn said some members were intimidated by the large crowd of students and guests who attended the previous meeting, when the campus carry issue was introduced for a first reading.
The final vote tally was not released because the vote occurred in closed session, but Kinghorn said the measure did not have unanimous support.
“I think that some great arguments were brought up, and it is a topic that we all have been in discussions about,” Kinghorn said. “It definitely stems from very solid evidence that safety is a big concern for students, and I think that both sides were explained well. That’s just the way the vote came down.”
During the open debate of the resolution, some student senators questioned whether there was significant evidence that the student body overall supported concealed carry on campus.
McCahill’s bill noted that about 600 Baylor students signed a petition in 2013 in support of a bill under consideration in the Texas Legislature that would have allowed CHL holders to carry guns on public college and university campuses.
The senate version of that bill did not advance out of committee to be considered by the full body.
“We cannot pass something, especially with lives involved, based off this information,” junior Pearson Brown said. “Right now, the only data that we have, tangible data to consider, is the less than 4 percent of students who support (the petition). We have no quotes from the hierarchy at Baylor, such as (President) Ken Starr and (chief of staff) Tommye Lou Davis, other than them saying this is completely preposterous to consider this.”
But senior Blake Hannas argued that students may not feel strongly for or against the measure until a dangerous shooting situation unfolds close to home.
Senior Cole Hansen told the senate he grew up three miles from Columbine High School, site of a 1999 mass shooting in which 12 students and a teacher were killed.
He said his hometown is also near Aurora, Colorado, where 12 were killed in a 2012 shooting at a movie theatre.
“This is a proactive stance, not a reactive stance,” Hansen said. “A reactive stance means deaths, it means accidents, it means you’re waiting for something to happen.”
Texas college students with CHL licenses can keep handguns in a locked compartment in their cars, in accordance with a state law that went into effect in September 2013.
Baylor’s student policy includes the measure.