Students may carry guns on campus in Texas

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The Independent US

Texas is preparing to give college students and staff the right to carry guns on campus. More than half of the Texas House of Representatives have signed a measure allowing concealed handguns at universities.

Texas has become a prime battleground for the issue because of its gun culture and its size, with 38 public universities and more than 500,000 students. It would become the second state, after Utah, to pass such a broad-based law. Supporters of the move argue that gun violence on campuses, such as the mass shootings at Virginia Tech in 2007 and Northern Illinois in 2008, show that the best defence against a gunman is students who can shoot back.

"It's strictly a matter of self-defence," said Jeff Wentworth, a Republican state senator. "I don't ever want to see repeated on a Texas college campus what happened at Virginia Tech, where some deranged, suicidal madman goes into a building and is able to pick off totally defenceless kids like sitting ducks."

The president of Texas University, William Powers, has opposed concealed handguns on campus, saying the mix of students, guns and campus parties is too volatile. Previous laws have been rejected in 23 states since 2007, but gun-control activists say it will be difficult to stop the Texas bill passing this year. The Senate passed a similar bill in 2009 and is expected to do so again.