If the University of Texas System honestly believes that Texas Senate Bill 11, the “campus carry” bill authored by Senator Brian Birdwell (R-Granbury), would cost (http://is.gd/YzFo7U) the system $39 million over six years, why did the system’s flagship university—UT-Austin, which serves more than 51,000 students—submit a fiscal note claiming that it expects to incur zero cost associated with the bill? An article (http://is.gd/m2JdQe) in the February 26, 2015, edition of the UT-Austin student newspaper The Daily Texan, states, “According to UT-Austin’s fiscal note, which estimates expenses associated with campus carry, the policy would not cost the University any additional funds.”
The article quotes UT-Austin spokesman Garry Susswein as saying that dorm residents in need of secured firearms storage would be expected to bear those costs themselves. This begs the question: If UT-Austin, the largest university in the system and the second largest university in the state, would not incur any notable costs as a result of Senate Bill 11, where would the purported $6.5 million annual cost be incurred? The article explains:
Most significantly, the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center estimated it would require $22 million dollars to increase staff size and training for its police department and to install security systems, such as card readers, UT System spokeswoman Jenny LaCoste-Caputo said. “It’s clear that there are inherent safety risks in a medical setting that present specific challenges, such as medical equipment, the presence of chemicals held under high pressure, safety concerns for patients and providing necessary storage for handguns that doesn’t currently exist,” LaCoste-Caputo said in an email. UT-Dallas, UT-El Paso and UT-Rio Grande Valley have also requested additional funds to accommodate campus carry if the bill were to pass. Combined, the institutions requested about $630,000 for security measures.
Given that on-campus housing is the only location where Senate Bill 11 would allow universities to regulate the storage of handguns but that the bill would allow universities to continue to prohibit handguns in any facility operating as part of a licensed hospital, why would MD Anderson—which offers no on-campus student housing and comprises primarily hospital facilities—spend money to install handgun storage facilities? Furthermore, why would allowing licensed concealed carry in non-hospital teaching and administrative buildings necessitate the installation of card readers or the hiring of additional police?
If carrying a handgun in close proximity to “chemicals held under high pressure” poses such a safety risk, why has MD Anderson thus far been content with only the security offered by an honor-system-based “gun-free” policy? Now that they’ve announced to the world’s terrorists that their facilities are rife with ready-made IEDs, won’t they need to implement these security measures regardless of the final disposition of Senate Bill 11? SCC Southwest Regional Director Madison Welch commented, “When an institution that has taken no steps to mitigate the dangers posed by the illegal possession of firearms claims to need tens of millions of dollars to mitigate dangers posed by the lawful possession of a firearms, that tells me that the administrators are less concerned with security than with pushing their own political agenda or padding their institution’s coffers.”