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Texas A&M University’s New Campus Carry Rules Allow Guns in Dorms, Classrooms

Texas A&M University’s New Campus Carry Rules Allow Guns in Dorms, Classrooms

Conservative campus takes a much different approach than the University of Texas at Austin.

When the Texas Legislature passed a campus carry bill during the 2015 legislative session, part of the law allowed the state’s universities to create rules designating certain areas of campus to remain gun-free, as long as those rules were not thwarting the law’s goals and making it impossible to carry a gun on campus.

Texas A&M University (TAMU)  announced its proposed rules for carrying guns on the campuses within the TAMU system on Wednesday, providing very few restrictions other than honoring existing private contracts and specifically identified safety issues. The sharp contrast with how the issue has been handled at TAMU and at the University of Texas at Austin illustrates many of the divisions in the gun control debate.

What Texas’ campus carry law actually does

Previous Texas law already allowed those who qualified for a concealed handgun license (CHL) to carry on the campus grounds, but not to bring their weapons inside. The campus carry bill, which will be effective on August 1, expanded the rights of CHL holders to also carry inside campus buildings. An open carry bill also passed during the 2015 session, thereby converting “concealed” handgun licenses to simply handgun licenses, but the campus carry bill was written to still only allow concealed carry at colleges.

Texas only grants handgun licenses to those who are 21 years of age or older (or qualified military veterans). The law also requires background checks, safety and proficiency training. The total costs for the required training classes and application fees are several hundred dollars. The bottom line is that the majority of college students — especially the undergraduates young enough to still live on campus — are too young to qualify for a CHL or would be otherwise unable or unwilling to meet all these requirements.

TAMU’s new policy

The TAMU proposed rules grant broad rights to carry concealed weapons on campus, in compliance with the new law. In bold print, the policy as posted on their website, states, “No rule proposed by any Texas A&M System member prohibits a licensed holder from carrying a concealed handgun in classrooms or residential facilities owned and operated, or leased and operated, by the institution.

TAMU provided a few exceptions to this broad policy. For example, three of the institutions within the TAMU system (Prairie View A&M University, Texas A&M International University, and Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi) have a third-party management company that leases their residential facilities. The TAMU rules state that they “acknowledge the property right of the management company to determine restrictions on the possession and storage of weapons in those facilities” and “generally…will defer to the property rights of lessees.”

State law also continues to prohibit guns at interscholastic events, which TAMU will honor.

Finally, the law listed several categories where additional exceptions are allowed, including scientific laboratories where the presence of firearms would create a hazard (e.g., from interacting with strong magnets in use in the lab, or because of the risk of adverse interactions with flammable materials, etc.), campus disciplinary hearings, health and psychological treatment facilities, etc.

According to the Texas Tribune:

The proposed rules have been approved by Chancellor John Sharp and A&M System legal staff. They will be reviewed by the A&M System Board of Regents later this month. State law doesn’t require board approval of campus carry rules, but it does allow regents to amend the rules if they disagree with them.

TAMU Chancellor: I trust my students and staff

TAMU’s approach to the campus carry issue wasn’t surprising. TAMU consistently ranks among the most conservative colleges in America, especially for a public, non-religiously affiliated school. The Aggies also have a long and proud military tradition. In 1918, the entire senior class enlisted to fight during WWI, and Aggies have continued to serve in the military in large numbers.

When the campus carry bill was being debated by the Texas Legislature, TAMU Chancellor John Sharp sent a letter to Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick in which he said that he had “complete trust and faith in our students.”

“Having licensed gun owners in possession of legal weapons on our campuses does not raise safety concerns for me personally,” wrote Sharp. “The real question is this: ‘Do I trust my students, faculty and staff to work and live responsibly under the same laws at the university as they do at home?’ Of course I do!”

Very different reaction at the University of Texas

Texas’ other major university system, the University of Texas (UT), has had a very different reaction to the campus carry bill, both officially from the top and from the faculty and student body. Both former UT President Bill Powers and Chancellor William McRaven, as well as former Chancellor Francisco Cigarroa, publicly stated their opposition to campus carry and McRaven sent an open letter to Patrick, Gov. Greg Abbott, and Speaker of the House Joe Straus outlining his objections to the bill.

In February 2015, a mathematics professor who was the chair of the UT Faculty Council sent an email from an official UT email account to the entire UT Austin faculty that listed an upcoming public hearing on the bill and urged the faculty to speak up in opposition.

As Legal Insurrection reported, UT Austin President Gregory Fenves vowed to ban guns in dormitories, despite comment from Attorney General Ken Paxton that such a broad ban would be in conflict with the law.

After the law passed, several UT professors announced they were resigning, including a tenured economics professor and the dean of the architecture school.

Even more bizarre than quitting a cushy tenured position was the “#CocksNotGlocks” effort to organize students to bring sex toys to class. That protest is apparently scheduled for the first day of classes this upcoming August, after the law will be in effect.

Follow Sarah Rumpf on Twitter: @rumpfshaker.


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A firearm is like a (censored): it should not be talked about in a group where there might be somebody who would object, it should be kept well-concealed except in the rare occasion where it needs to be used, after which it should be put away again. Oh, and you should keep it with you at all times, because you never know just when you’ll need it.

Of course I meant wallet. What did you think I was talking about?

Proud of my Aggies. Gig ’em!

Well, that’s one way to get liberal professors off campus.
Much different than U of South Alabama where an empty holster triggers a panic call to the cops. Part of the agenda that never ends.

VIDEO: Student wearing empty holster cited for ‘threatening the safety of campus’

Parten protested that nothing in the policy even implies that he is not allowed to wear the empty holster, particularly since he was doing it as a way of drawing attention to the school’s no-gun policy, but made no headway with the intractable officer, who insisted that the empty holster represented a potential safety hazard because it implied the existence of a firearm whose whereabouts he could not ascertain.

“Is this just because I have a holster on me?” Parten asks the officer after turning over his identification.

“Yeah, it is, because somebody called it in,” the officer replies matter-of-factly. “You know there’s a no-weapons policy out here, but still you want to push it.”

“After the law passed, several UT professors announced they were resigning, including a tenured economics professor and the dean of the architecture school.”

Yet those professors live next to people who probably own firearms, they drive on the roads next to people who are probably armed, they shop in stores with people who are concealed carrying. If they’re going to be consistent, they need to leave the country entirely. Perhaps a gofundme plea is in order?

A civil rights victory.

Liberty is only possible for self-moderating, responsible men and women. So, hunt, shoot, and practice self-defense with a rational and reasonable outlook. Depriving people of natural rights for light and opportunistic causes is antithetical to the spirit and letter of our constitutional law.

anninarizona | April 14, 2016 at 7:11 pm

The entire Texas A&M Class of ’45 marched to the recruiting office in September of 1943 to enlist too. Those who came home after the war were the first non-Corps of Cadet class in A&M’s history, not being particularly inclined to submit to ROTC strictures after having seen combat.

I’m sure you’ll recall the loons on the UT campus who staged an “Open Dildo Carry” protest a few months ago.

There are so many things I love about living in Austin, but sometimes the fruit-loops just wear me down. Most of the time I enjoy tweaking them, but sometimes I have to just retreat to my little place in the Hill Country to get away from the crazy.

God Bless Texas A&M.

inspectorudy | April 15, 2016 at 1:22 am

I am an open carry advocate but I do believe there are people who should not be armed. It has nothing to do with gender race or religion. But we all know those careless people who lose the cell phone constantly and cannot remember where they left their purses or cars. Carrying a gun is not only our right but our responsibility and I think that too many people are just jumping on the carry bandwagon. How many of you carry people have ever thought through a mall type shooting where you are armed and there is a shooting going on near you? It gets real stressful in a hurry if you think about drawing your weapon. What if you hit an innocent person? What if the other carry people think you are one of the bad guys? What if the cops think you are one of the bad guys? What if you expose yourself with your weapon drawn and your gun jams? Think about it sometimes when you are sitting in a crowded mall. I think in terms of only protecting myself unless the situation is directly in front of me. That is also why I carry a .357 revolver because I never have to think about what state the gun is in and it can’t jam or have the safety on. Good luck to us all.

    rorschach256 in reply to inspectorudy. | April 15, 2016 at 9:59 am

    What if you hit an innocent bystander? That is where training comes in. You did seek training above and beyond what is required to get your CHL right?

    What if you expose yourself and your gun jams? Again, training dictates that you do not expose yourself needlessly, but training also covers what to do when there is a weapons malfunction too. so again. Train Train Train like your life depends on it, because it just might.

    virtually EVERY issue you bring up is a training issue. If you can’t be bothered to train, then you need to seriously reassess your desire to carry.

      inspectorudy in reply to rorschach256. | April 15, 2016 at 12:59 pm

      “What if you hit an innocent bystander? That is where training comes in.”

      I disagree with your train, train, train comment. You have no idea what people will do at the first sound of a gun shot. You can train all you want but you will still be in the dark. Even cops and the military have had friendly fire incidents. How many times have we heard/read about a weapons instructor shooting himself or discharging a weapon while giving a class on weapon safety? All I’m saying is you had better really think about it before you stand up and get involved with a public shooting that is not right in front of you and a threat to you. I was next in line in a 7-11 and the customer in front of me was robbing the cashier. He got the money and left. If I had pulled a gun on him and shot at him or he then shot the clerk would that have been the best outcome? Think! That is the way to handle these issues and not the guns blazing way. Carrying a gun does not make us cops!

    Clinger in reply to inspectorudy. | April 15, 2016 at 10:24 am

    Like you, I like carrying a revolver for it’s simplicity and more reliable function(I carry a Ruger LCR in a conceal holster).

    Open carry can cause absolute panty-wetting amongst the delicate snowflakes in our midst, so rather than deal with that, I prefer conceal-carry.

    Plus, it is more of a surprise for those that would do us harm…

rorschach256 | April 15, 2016 at 8:11 am

Since this place is run by, and populated by, lawyers, perhaps y’all can clarify a point of law on this subject.

Heller affirmed that there is a right to keep and bear arms in your home for lawful purposes and that the government cannot mandate that the weapon be kept in an inoperable state. Further federal courts have ruled that the federal government cannot prohibit the ownership of weapons in federally subsidized housing as a stipulation of residency. Third, the US Supreme court in Parker imposed the second amendment on the states as well as the federal government. Is a college dormitory at a public university not government subsidized housing? Do you not have a fourth amendment right to protection from unlawful search and seizure? Do you not (via Heller and Parker) have a right to keep and bear arms in your home (your dormitory) for protection or any other lawful use? Since the university is a subdivision of the state of Texas, and the second amendment is imposed upon the state as well, How can UT and UofH, and other state universities lawfully prohibit the possession of arms in a college dorm room?

rorschach256 | April 15, 2016 at 8:19 am

sorry, not Parker, McDonald, coffee hasn’t kicked in yet.