State Law Forces U-T Austin to Allow Concealed Handguns in Classrooms
(ABC News) — Guns are now going to be allowed on campus at the University of Texas at Austin despite the concerns of the school’s president and many of its professors.
The new policy comes as a result of a state law that impacts public universities, including the state’s flagship campus in Austin.
What Does the New Law Demand?
Students with concealed carry licenses in Texas used to be banned from bringing their weapons on campus, but the state legislature passed a law last year that overturned that rule.
Now, starting on Aug. 1, anyone with that license would be allowed to bring their weapon onto public university campuses. In most cases in Texas, only people 21 years and older are allowed apply for a gun license. The exception is members of the armed forces, who must be at least 18 to apply.
How Many U-T Austin Students Will Bring Guns to Campus?
The exact number is unknown, but the school’s communications department estimates that less than one percent of their students have a license to carry a concealed handgun.
The school has roughly 51,000 students, so the estimated number would equate to 510 students.
Where Will Guns Be Allowed on Campus?
Concealed handguns will be allowed on the outside parts of the 434-acre campus, in classrooms and in most buildings.
Certain buildings will be off limits, including mental health and counseling centers, and inside any arenas hosting ticketed sporting events.
Fraternity and sorority houses are private residences, according to the school’s communications office, so they will not allow the presence of concealed weapons. The same applies to dorm rooms, and though most 21-year-old students live off campus, there are a “handful” that still live in dorms, school spokesman J.B. Bird told ABC News.
By the nature of the concealed carry law, the new ruling doesn’t mean that people will be seeing more guns on campus.
“It is now — and will still be — illegal to display a firearm in campus buildings as well as on campus streets, sidewalks, walkways,” the school said in their statement.
What Did the School President Say?
In a statement released on the school’s website Wednesday, Gregory Fenves made it clear that he was not happy about the situation.
“I do not believe handguns belong on a university campus, so this decision has been the greatest challenge of my presidency to date,” he wrote in the statement.
“As a professor, I understand the deep concerns raised by so many. However, as president, I have an obligation to uphold the law,” he said.
Will This Law Apply to All Schools in Texas?
No. Private universities are still allowed to enact their own rules on their campuses.
The Associated Press reports that Rice, Baylor, Southern Methodist and Texas Christian universities, which are all private, are some of the schools that will still ban concealed weapons.