Texas Gov. Rick Perry believes that citizens who are legally licensed should be able to carry their concealed handguns anywhere, including churches, bars, courthouses, and college campuses, the Houston Chronicle reports. “I think it makes sense for Texans to be able to protect themselves from deranged individuals, whether they’re in church, or whether on a college campus or wherever they are,” he said. Perry commented yesterday after he and U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Michael Leavitt met with educators, mental health experts, and law enforcement officials to discuss the recent shootings at Virginia Tech University. Leavitt and other officials are traveling to discuss school and community safety practices for a report to President Bush.
Perry’s stance puts him at odds with a major political ally, the Texas Association of Business, over the right of employers to continue to ban firearms from their property. “We’re not in the Wild West anymore,” Tommie Garza of Texans for Gun Safety, said of the governor’s idea. “It doesn’t seem like the sensible thing to do.” Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson, who sponsored the concealed handgun law as a state senator in 1995, agreed with Perry that “we need more guns in schools in the hands of responsible people.” He drew the line at allowing guns in bars. “People get drunk there, and their aim is not as good,” he said. Current law prohibits the carrying of firearms, even by handgun licensees, into bars, schools, most areas of college campuses and courthouses. Churches can ban them, and governmental bodies can prohibit licensees from carrying pistols into public meetings.