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Slew of Concealed Handgun Bills Approved by Texas House

Update: Texas House members voted in favor of several bills Saturday, including House Bill 972. It allows concealed handgun license owners to carry their guns onto college campuses, with restrictions. But whether these measures move on to the Senate, depends on final passage next week.

Though House members spent all day debating bills, they saved the ones on the hot-button issue for last -- bills on concealed handguns.

State Rep. Allen Fletcher, R-Cypress, is the author of House Bill 972, which would allow concealed handgun license holders to carry their guns on college campuses, though not at sporting events or dorms. Public colleges and universities could opt out.

Rep. Fletcher said people approved to carry concealed handguns by the Department of Public Safety are "prohibited from protecting themselves in buildings and facilities on college and university campuses."

He also said many crimes on campus are done quickly, "hardly enough time for law enforcement to respond," Fletcher added. 

One that got heated debate was House Bill 1076, by State Rep. Steve Toth, R-The Woodlands. His  bill would bar state agencies from enforcing federal gun legislation. State Rep. Chris Turner, D-Grand Prairie, said it was nothing more than a "political statement" criticizing President Barack Obama. But members passed it as well. 

Another bill they've passed is House Bill 485 by State Rep. Sarah Davis, R-West University Place. Her bill would reduce CHL fees for peace officers and veterans, among others.

House Bill 698 by State Rep. Drew Springer, R-Muenster, would require the Department of Public Safety to come up with other ways for concealed handgun license applicants to get their certifiable fingerprints taken. Presently, applicants must get digital fingerprints taken at certain facilities, that require up to 100 miles of travel for those who live in rural parts of the state, Rep. Springer says.

All of the bills that passed Saturday require final passage next week in order to move onwards to the Senate.