Universities in Texas could be forced to allow students and staff to carry guns on campus in a victory for a firearms lobby, despite last month's killings in Arizona.
A new law that looks certain to pass would mean that Texas's 38 public colleges, which are attended by 500,000 students, must permit concealed handguns on site. It would become only the second state, alongside Utah, to compel the institutions to do so.
More than 20 states have rejected similar proposals introduced since the Virginia Tech massacre in April 2007, in which a student killed 32 people.
Six weeks ago, six people were killed and 13 wounded, including Gabrielle Giffords, a US Congresswoman, during a shooting spree in a supermarket car park in Tucson, Arizona.
A group campaigning against the measure, Texas for Gun-free Schools, said the plan was supported by only one in four Texans and just 15pc of students. "Guns do not belong in classrooms, and the incredibly low violent crime rate on college campuses demonstrates the success of this policy," it said.
While the plan has provoked anger among opponents, supporters said that allowing everyone to carry a hidden weapon was the only way to prevent more massacres.
"It's strictly a matter of self-defence," said Jeff Wentworth, a Republican state senator. (© Daily Telegraph, London)