As of today, Texas’ Campus Carry law is effective.
Texas’ law is not a blanket invite for any and all gun owners to bring firearms on college campuses. Only Concealed Carry permit-holders are allowed to pack heat on campus (minimum age to do obtain a CHL in 21), and even then, certain buildings are off limits. Open carry is not permitted.
Private universities were allowed to opt-out of the law, and most did, including Baylor, Texas Christian University, Rice University and Southern Methodist University.
The debate has highlighted cultural differences between two of the state’s largest public universities — The University of Texas and Texas A&M University. Texas A&M, a historically conservative institution welcomed campus carry, while professors at the other school in Austin filed suit claiming campus carry was an infringement of their first amendment rights.
Earlier this month, at least three University of Texas at Austin professors filed a lawsuit over the state’s new campus carry law.
Jennifer Lynn Glass, Lisa Moore and Mia Carter want a federal judge to block the law. They are suing Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, UT Austin President Gregory Fenves and the UT regents to do so.
“Compelling professors at a public university to allow, without any limitation or restriction, students to carry concealed guns in their classrooms chills their First Amendment rights to academic freedom,” the professors argue in the lawsuit filed in U.S. district court in Austin earlier this month.
Some professors across the state have said that they think that campus carry will stifle heated discourse inside classrooms and lecture halls.
The argument, or fear, is that students carrying guns will in some way influence the way that some material is taught or discussed.
One University of Houston professor thinks such concerns are overblown.
“It’s an absolutely unfounded fear,” Jacob Smith, who teaches courses at UH as he works toward a doctorate in economics, said in February when many UH professors protested the law. Like many supporters of the new law, Smith said he wants to be able to protect himself and mentions all the alerts from UH about armed robberies and break-ins he receives.
According to data from the Texas Department of Public Safety, college-age Texans aren’t the ones getting the majority of licenses to carry. Back in 2015, just under 10,000 Texans under 24 years of age were getting those licenses. The majority of Texans getting license-t0-carry certifications were between the ages of 35 and 65.
Meanwhile at Texas A&M, Residence Life is prepping for gun safes. Dorm-living concealed carry permit holders wanting to keep their firearms with them on campus must rent or purchase a gun safe from the university.
Exclusion zones include sporting events, places determined to be “a significant risk of substantial harm,” and any federal property, like presidential libraries and museums.
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