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Texas considers allowing guns on campuses

Austin_John Woods sometimes sits in a classroom at the University of Texas, Austin, and wonders what would happen if somebody walked in and started shooting.

In April 2007, Mr. Woods was a student at Virginia Tech University when his girlfriend and several other people he knew were killed in the deadliest mass shooting in modern American history. Thirty-two people, plus the gunman, died.

There were times when Mr. Woods, now a graduate student at Texas, thought that maybe he should acquire a gun. "Then I learned pretty fast that wouldn't solve anything," he said.

Mr. Woods is among the leaders in a fight against bills in the Texas Legislature that would allow licensed concealed gun carriers to take weapons to campus.

A public hearing is scheduled for Monday in the House Public Safety Committee on one bill, sponsored by Representative Joe Driver, a Republican.

Supporters say the bills would protect the rights of those licensed to carry concealed weapons and help prevent a massacre on the scale of the shooting at Virginia Tech and another last year at Northern Illinois University, where 5 were killed and 18 wounded.

If gunfire erupted on campus, "would you rather sit and just take shot for shot or would you rather have a chance to fight back?" asked Katie Kasprzak, a spokeswoman for Students for Concealed Carry on Campus, a group that claims more than 37,000 members.

Opponents say that if guns are allowed on campus, students and faculty members will live in fear of classmates and colleagues, not knowing who may pull a gun over a drunken argument in a dormitory room or a poor grade.

COPYRIGHT 2009 BY THE ASSOCIATED PRESS. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

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