Texas has joined eight other states that allow allow guns to be carried onto university campuses with a controversial campus carry law having gone into effect on August 1. Concealed handgun license holders can now carry their weapons on state college and university campuses throughout the state.
Signed by Governor Greg Abbott last summer, the campus carry law was created as a result of numerous campus shootings throughout the country. The belief is that increasing the number of licensed gun carriers will make colleges safer.
However, not everyone is happy with the decision. William McRaven, chancellor of the University of Texas system, is against the move, arguing that doing so will only make campuses more dangerous.
"Clearly you could have an active shooter case if you had a CHL [concealed handgun] license holder, but you could just as easy have an active shooter with somebody who just walks off the drag with a weapon in their hand," McRaven told KERA last fall. "So we have to be prepared to deal with active shooters immaterial of whether or not the CHL law had passed."
McRaven, a retired Navy admiral and special operations commander, said his job requires him to ensure that the law is carried out while making sure parents, students, and faculty members remain safe.
"We want the campus environment to be welcoming. We want to make sure we are, again, adhering to the law. But at the same time, we don't want to create an environment where there's a lot of anxiety when students or faculty or parents come onto a campus," McRaven added.
The new law will allow guns to be carried into buildings, classrooms, and dorms. However, rules will vary from campus to campus, with each school being allowed to determine for itself where exactly to allow the weapons. Gun-free zones will be allowed on campuses in the state, although they cannot enact a campus-wide ban or classroom-wide ban. Meanwhile, private schools can prohibit guns on campus all together, with all but one having done so already, writes Lauren McGaughy for The Dallas Morning News.
Public community colleges in the state will be affected by the new law in 2017.
Some, like Aric Short, the vice dean of Texas A&M Law School, say they do not believe the new law will cause any real change to occur on campus other than a few questions from students, faculty, and staff members.
Those under the age of 21 will still be prohibited from carrying a concealed firearm on campus, meaning that the majority of undergraduates will not be allowed to participate. Even those of the appropriate age must participate in and successfully complete a state-certified concealed carry training course.
Eight other states already have similar campus carry laws in effect, including Kansas, Colorado, and Utah.
The open carry law already in place in the state does not apply to college campuses. Guns carried on campus are required to be holstered and kept out of sight.