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MSNBC "Hardball with Chris Matthews" - Transcript




MATTHEWS: We"re back.

Would having more guns on college campuses make them safer places to take--to study? A long list of lawmakers down in Texas say the answer is yes. And with the big Republican majority in the state capitol, it looks like it might just happen.

Republican State Senator Jeff Wentworth is the sponsor of a bill that would allow people with concealed handgun licenses to take handguns into college dorms and to other buildings, in the classrooms.

Colin Goddard, of course, is with Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. He"s a survivor, by the way, of the 2007 Virginia Tech shooting. He was shot four times, in fact, in that horrible incident. He"s featured a new documentary about the tragedy at Virginia Tech called "Living for 22."

Senator, thank you for joining us. Just make your case why do you think students--why colleges should be basically required to allow students to have concealed weapon carry with licenses?

STATE SEN. JEFF WENTWORTH ®, TEXAS: Well, in the first place, Chris, I"d like to change the characterization. It"s not college kids carrying concealed weapons on campus. In Texas, the law requires you to be at least 21 years of age to have a license. So, if you"re a traditional freshman, sophomore, junior, you"re 17, 18, 19, 20 years old, so you"re not eligible for a concealed carry license.


WENTWORTH: It"s mainly members of the faculty, staff, graduate students and a few seniors. And it"s purely for self defense--

MATTHEWS: Well, most seniors turn--most--I was the youngest kid in my class and I was 21 in my senior year.

WENTWORTH: Me, too. I was 21 in my senior years. So, but we"re not talking about freshmen, sophomores and juniors, though.


MATTHEWS: We"re talking about seniors carrying guns on campus. And my question to you is: tell me how that makes it safer for those students, or for anybody?

WENTWORTH: Well, if I"m--if I"m in a class and a deranged madman comes on campus in Texas, as he did at Virginia Tech, and starts shooting, and everybody is unarmed and defenseless and vulnerable, we"re all dead.


WENTWORTH: If somebody in that class has a license and has been through a significant period--I mean, in order to get a license in Texas, you have to go through a 10-hour class, you have to pass a test, you have to go on a shooting range and pass, you pass a criminal background check, you give up your fingerprints, photographs, pay a not insignificant fee of over $100.


WENTWORTH: It takes several weeks. It"s not something you just go down and plank down a $10 bill and get card for.

MATTHEWS: You know, back in the old days, we all watched you--and I watched television, probably the same age, we watched old movies and we know what it was like in the old west. They apparently put their guns at the city limits. They couldn"t carry them into saloons with them, and places like that.

Do you think it"s OK for a 21-year-old kid, or 22-year-old grad student to be walking into a campus bar or something, and when you got alcohol involved, there are guys and girls together with the usual kind of competition that goes on there, social competition, with booze, and guns? Do you think that"s a healthy combination?

WENTWORTH: Well, that hypothetical you gave doesn"t happen--

MATTHEWS: It"s not hypothetical at all, sir. You can walk into a bar with a gun under your law.

WENTWORTH: No, you cannot. That"s a misrepresentation of a fact.

You cannot go in Texas legally with a concealed carry license with a gun. Now, people do it illegally all the time, but this bill would not allow that.

MATTHEWS: No, but a campus--but you said campuses would be allowed to have kids carrying guns. What about a bar on campus?

WENTWORTH: We don"t have bars on campus in Texas.

MATTHEWS: You don"t?

WENTWORTH: It"s against--it"s against the law in Texas. That"s exactly right?


WENTWORTH: Yes, sir, no alcohol allowed--

MATTHEWS: You can"t have a--on a private college campuses, you can"t have a bar?

WENTWORTH: Now you flipped it. We"re talking about public--

MATTHEWS: No, I didn"t flip it.

WENTWORTH: We"re talking about public universities. We"re not talking about private universities.

MATTHEWS: OK. Where I went to college, and a lot of which colleges I know, they have campus bar. They have them right on campuses.

WENTWORTH: They don"t in Texas. They don"t in Texas. We"re talking about Texas.

MATTHEWS: OK. So, but you would bring them--you would let them play--how about kids that want to play football? Would they be allowed to carry during a game or what? Not during the game.

WENTWORTH: No, actually, the law does not allow--and currently this law would not change it, for athletic contests, they"re not permitted.

MATTHEWS: OK. But you would be allowed to take it to the contest or not?


MATTHEWS: No. So, you can"t take it to a contest, you can"t take it to a--any kind of bar scene or anything like that? But you can walk around in campus.

WENTWORTH: That"s right.

MATTHEWS: OK, now we"ve got this straight.


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