Texas College Republicans Target State Sen. Steve Ogden

By: Clay Falls and Texas Tribune Email
By: Clay Falls and Texas Tribune Email

10 P.M. Update

Carrying concealed guns on college campuses;

It's a debate still being discussed in Austin and now looks like it won't happen in the State Senate with Republican Senator Steve Ogden being the only one in his party opposing the bill.

In March 57 percent of Texas A&M students voted a symbolic no to concealed carry on campus in the spring elections.

More than 13,000 students weighed in.

"Senator Ogden is supposed to be representing us very locally so just as a role as a politician I think he is doing the right thing in sticking with what his constituents are asking him to do," said Kristie Conoley, a Texas A&M English Freshman.

Conoley is still straddling the fence on the issue of concealed weapons being allowed on college campuses.

"He is a representative in the government for what we should be voting for, for what his constituents are asking for and we took a vote already and the fact that he is sticking to that is his right and well in his power," she said.

State Senator Steve Ogden of Bryan spoke with News 3 last month about his opposition to the bill.

"There are arguments for this there is in my opinion no compelling reason to change what currently exists, and so being pretty conservative here we don't make changes for changes' sake and I haven't seen a compelling argument that says that the current situation is unfair, and should not continue," said State Senator Ogden during a March 13th interview.

While he wasn't available for comment on the latest development, his staff says his position won't change unless an amendment is made to the bill which would allow public institutions to opt out of allowing concealed carry.

As it stand now, private schools are already allowed to do that in the proposed law.

The decision is not sitting well with Texas College Republicans, including those right here at A&M.

"Earlier this year at the convention, the Texas College Republicans, passed concealed carry on campus as our top legislative priority. In seeing as the A&M College Republicans are a part of that organization, our official position is fully in support of that... We would definitely urge him to reverse that position because we think that concealed carry on campus is an issue about people's fundamental rights to protect themselves," said Jacob Johnson, Texas A&M College Republicans Chairman.

"I think there's something to do with personal rights then again it's a college campus just for safety reasons and people can argue for that one way or the other," said Kristie Conoley.

A matter of figuring out which is the best way to offer safety for students.

News 3 is told the bill's author Senator Jeff Wentworth of San Antonio could amend the bill on the floor.

No word yet on when further action will be taken.

*Texas Tribune Article*

In a press release, the Texas College Republicans said they were "stunned" by the actions of a member of the Texas Senate: Steve Ogden, R-Bryan.

According to the release, Ogden is the lone Senate Republican withholding support for Senate Bill 354 by state Sen. Jeff Wentworth, R-San Antonio. The measure would allow qualified individuals to carry concealed handguns on university and college campuses.

Previously expected to sail through the session with relative ease, the bill has hit a wall in the Senate, where Wentworth has been unable to muster the 21 votes needed to allow the bill to be considered on the floor. With two of the 12 Democrats and 18 of the 19 Republicans currently willing to take up the bill — a count confirmed by Wentworth's office — he is currently one short.

That means a nod from Ogden, who has previously expressed concern about the bill's inconsistency in allowing private institutions but not public ones to opt out, could put the bill over the mark and allow it to come to the floor, where it would likely pass.

"When you're the only person stopping something that everyone else in your party is supporting, it's time to reconsider your position," Texas College Republicans state chairman Steve Lettunich said, noting that campus carry legislation is his organization's top priority this session.

Full Texas Tribune Story


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