State lawmakers continue to spar over Texas’ campus carry law

images-2Tom Benning Email
Published: December 17, 2015 4:26 pm

AUSTIN – As public universities in Texas have started to detail their preliminary plans for campus carry, state lawmakers continue to argue over the particulars of the contentious firearms legislation that was passed this year.

The latest gambit comes from Sen. Kirk Watson, an Austin Democrat who’s opposed the measure.

Watson on Thursday asked Attorney General Ken Paxton to withhold issuing an opinion on the law until after schools actually implement their campus carry policies. That request came after Sen. Brian Birdwell, R-Granbury, had asked Paxton to weigh in on the law’s finer points.

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Texas state flag

Texas state flag

WVa may weigh measure to allow concealed guns without permit

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Dec 17, 2015, 11:49 AM ET

Lawmakers in West Virginia are gearing up for another attempt at making it legal to carry concealed weapons in the state without a permit, and their chances of success are high.

The Republican-led Legislature overwhelmingly passed a measure earlier this year to allow people to carry out-of-sight guns without a permit. Democratic Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin vetoed it, citing safety concerns and an outcry from law enforcement. The Legislature ran out of time and wasn’t able to hold a vote attempt at overriding the veto.

Sen. Bill Cole, the president of West Virginia’s Senate, said legislators are working on a new version of the legislation for to appease law enforcement’s concerns, and some possibilities have emerged: increasing penalties for gun-related crimes, requiring 18- to 21-year-olds to undergo the gun training currently required for concealed carry permits, and limiting the new law to West Virginia residents.

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Why mental health bill isn’t moving

By Bridget Bowman
Posted at 5 a.m. on Dec. 16

“We have to do it now,” Rep. Tim Murphy said on the House floor, urging Congress to act on his mental health system overhaul legislation in the wake of another mass shooting.

That was two years ago. In December 2013, the Pennsylvania Republican introduced his comprehensive mental health bill — which has recently been lauded by top House Republicans, including Speaker Paul D. Ryan, as a potential response to mass shootings. It was near the first anniversary of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Conn., where 20-year-old Adam Lanza killed 20 children and six adults.

For Murphy, a clinical psychologist, it’s unclear why his bill, which he reminds his colleagues of after the nation’s frequent mass shootings, hasn’t moved forward in Congress. “I’ve got a Ph.D. and I’ve practiced in this field for 40 years and I still can’t tell you why some people act the way they do,” Murphy said. “This is — to me it’s beyond comprehension.”

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States explore blocking gun sales to terror watch lists


Associated Press Dec. 17, 2015, at 8:41 a.m. + More

By MICHAEL BALSAMO, Associated Press

NEW YORK (AP) — Congress may have declined to ban the sale of guns to people on federal terrorism watch lists, but one state — New Jersey — has, at least theoretically, been stopping such purchases since 2013.

It isn’t clear whether New Jersey’s ban has actually stopped a would-be extremist from buying a firearm. But the system could potentially serve as a model for a handful of other states, including New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Illinois and California, where lawmakers have been exploring ways to restrict sales without an act of Congress.

Under a law signed by Gov. Chris Christie, people buying guns or applying for a firearm permit in New Jersey can be blocked as part of the routine criminal history check, conducted through the National Crime Information Center.

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Flag of Connecticut

Flag of Connecticut

White House promises ‘non-traditional’ State of the Union

DSC_0305By JULIE PACE, AP White House Correspondent

WASHINGTON (AP) — The White House is promising President Barack Obama will deliver a “non-traditional” State of the Union address next month, eschewing the standard litany of policy proposals for a broader discussion on the challenges facing the country.

The format reflects the legislative reality for Obama’s final year in office. Much of what the White House and the Republican-led Congress could realistically achieve in an election year is already underway, including discussions on criminal justice reform, and the ticking clock on Obama’s presidency leaves little time to jumpstart major new initiatives.

The president is scheduled to deliver his last State of the Union on Jan. 12, less than three weeks before Americans begin voting in the presidential primaries.

In a briefing for reporters Thursday, White House officials said Obama’s agenda for his last year in office includes securing congressional approval of the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact, additional steps to address climate change, and bolstering gun control measures. The latter steps will be taken through executive action, though officials wouldn’t say whether the measures would be ready in time for Obama’s address to Congress.

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Reid: Dems ‘maybe’ to blame on gun bill losses Associated Press Newswires

By ERICA WERNER, AP Congressional Correspondent

WASHINGTON (AP) — Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid said Thursday his party has tried everything to get gun control legislation through Congress and still keeps losing to the National Rifle Association.

Reid said Democrats themselves may be to blame — or maybe voters are gullible, even after multiple mass shootings.

The comments from the Nevada Democrat in an interview with The Associated Press reflect frustrations in his caucus, where some lawmakers are deeply perturbed over congressional inaction on guns. Several attempts by Democrats to force votes on the issue this month failed to garner even a Senate majority in favor of background checks or keeping suspected terrorists from buying guns.DSC_0215

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