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Tag Archives: campus carry

Campus Carry Outrage is Ebbing, and Schools want to Leave it Be

Some lawmakers will try to tweak Texas’ campus carry law in 2017, but many schools — including the University of Texas System — would just as soon not revisit the controversial law.

When Texas lawmakers in 2015 were considering allowing the concealed carry of handguns on college campuses by license holders, the leadership at the University of Texas System was one of the idea’s most powerful opponents.

Campus carry became law anyway, and now the system and other early critics are taking a different stance: Let’s not stir this pot again.

Since the law went into effect Aug. 1, 2016, there have been no major incidents, and once-fervent opposition has settled down.  Some lawmakers will try to tweak the law in 2017 when the Legislature convenes, but many on both sides seem happy not to rekindle the fractious debate. The UT System is instead focusing on keeping the law the way it is, so that its limited power over where guns may be carried on its campuses remains.

It didn’t always seem destined to turn out that way. For much of 2016, campus carry was among the most divisive issues at colleges across the state. Protests and petitions popped up on nearly every public campus as university leaders figured out where they could and couldn’t continue to ban guns.

The law was designed to allow people over age 21 with the proper license to carry their concealed handguns inside most public university buildings, but it let campus presidents declare a few areas off-limits. Many faculty members asked for bans in classrooms and professors’ offices. Meanwhile, pro-campus carry lawmakers warned school presidents not to go to far if they didn’t want lawmakers to take away their discretion in 2017.

In the end, guns were allowed in classrooms, but banned in places like day care centers and football stadiums. Some universities allowedtt gun tt guns in dorms; others did not.

So far, fears of violence or accidental shootings haven’t been realized. One gun was accidentally shot off in a Tarleton State University dormitory, but no one was injured. With campus life not changing much, many school officials have backed off their opposition. At the UT System, Chancellor Bill McRaven, a retired Navy admiral, opposed campus carry in 2015. Now, the system’s priority is hanging onto the limited authority to bar guns in some settings.

“We believe that all of our presidents … made very well-reasoned decisions about where guns should not be allowed on each of our campuses,” Barry McBee, vice chancellor for government relations, told the UT System Board of Regents this month. “And we hope those decisions remain in place.”

So far, there’s been little effort to overrule them. Last week, state Sen. Kel Seliger, R-Amarillo, chairman of the Senate Higher Education Committee, said at an event on the UT-Austin campus that he hasn’t seen any problems with the law.

But some changes will likely be proposed. Michael Newbern, assistant director of public relations for Students for Concealed Carry, said his group hopes to work with lawmakers on legislation that would clarify campus carry rules.

“We think the possibility for confusion as to what authority a university has is high,” he said.

Meanwhile, two Democratic lawmakers have already filed bills for the 2017 session that seek to allow public universities to opt out of campus carry and ban guns in their buildings. Private universities were given that right in 2015, and all but one opted to keep their gun bans in place.

“I represent a lot of people who work at UT, who teach at UT, who are students at UT and who are parents of students at UT, and they still contact me regularly with concerns about this law,” said state Rep. Donna Howard, D-Austin, who authored one of the bills.

But in the gun-loving Texas Legislature, that kind of change is a long shot, Howard admitted.

“I don’t harbor any illusions that this is a smooth-sailing proposal,” she said.

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Disclosure: The University of Texas System has been a financial supporter of The Texas TribuneA complete list of Tribune donors and sponsors can be viewed here.

Author:  MATTHEW WATKINS – The Texas Tribune

Texas, UT Ask Judge to Throw Out Lawsuit Challenging Campus Carry

The Texas Attorney General’s Office and University of Texas at Austin on Monday asked a federal judge to throw out a lawsuit brought by three UT-Austin professors seeking to keep guns out of their classrooms despite the state’s new campus carry law.

In two separate court filings, lawyers for the university and the state argue that the professors’ claims that the law violates their First Amendment rights are unfounded. They also argue that the federal court doesn’t have jurisdiction to rule on the state law.

Professors Jennifer Lynn Glass, Lisa Moore and Mia Carter have argued that the law, which went into effect Aug. 1, will stifle discussion in their classrooms. The law made it possible for people who have concealed handgun licenses to carry their weapons into classrooms and most other campus buildings. The professors say they fear that guns present during class discussions will cause people to censor themselves out of concerns for their safety.

UT-Austin, however, argues that “incidental impact” on free speech does not violate the First Amendment.

“Even if the … policy had some incidental impact on Plaintiffs’ speech, that impact does not implicate any interest that the First Amendment protects,” the university argues.

The professors have asked U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel to allow them to personally ban guns in their classrooms. They are also seeking a temporary injunction to prevent guns in their classrooms before fall classes start on Aug. 24. Yeakel held a hearing on the matter last week but didn’t rule. He gave both sides until Monday to file additional briefings to clarify their stances. Both sides can submit rebuttals by Wednesday. A ruling on the injunction should come soon after that.

Disclosure: The University of Texas at Austin has been a financial supporter of The Texas Tribune. A complete list of Tribune donors and sponsors can be viewed here

  • REFERENCE MATERIAL
UT Request for Dismissal PDF (307.9 KB) download
Attorney General Request for Dismissal PDF (353.1 KB) download

Author:   – The Texas Tribune

Video+Story – Texas is Now a Campus Carry State: Here’s What You Need to Know

After months of meetings, protests and political debates, the time has come: It’s legal to carry handguns into university buildings in Texas. The state’s new campus carry law, passed in 2015, went into effect Monday. Here’s what it means at schools across the state:

Not everyone gets to carry guns; in fact, most students can’t

Campus carry only applies to people who have concealed handgun licenses. And with a few exceptions, you have to be over 21 and take state-approved training to have a concealed handgun in Texas. That means many freshmen, sophomores and juniors won’t even be able to carry if they want to. At the University of Texas at Austin, officials estimate that fewer than 1 percent of students has a license.

You still can’t carry at community colleges or private schools

To give community and junior colleges more time to prepare, the law doesn’t go into effect for those schools until 2017. At private schools, meanwhile, administrators can choose to opt out of the law. So far, only one, Amberton University, is planning to allow guns on campus next school year.

There are still places you can’t take your gun

The law still bans guns in sports arenas. And it also allows schools to impose bans in a few other areas. You won’t be able to take your gun to an on-campus daycare facility. You won’t be able to take your gun to a research lab where dangerous chemicals are stored. But guns will be allowed in classrooms and student unions. For dorms, it depends on the campus.

Guns are mostly still banned in dorm rooms at UT-Austin, the University of Houston, Texas Tech University, Prairie View A&M and Texas Southern University. But they are now allowed at Texas A&M University, Texas State University, the University of North Texas, Stephen F. Austin State University and Sam Houston State University dorms.

This law is not unprecedented

Texas is the eighth state to allow campus carry. In other states where it is allowed, universities have not reported much of a disruption in campus lifestyle. There have been a small number of incidents across the country, but they involve gun accidents — not intentional shootings.

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Campus carry is not open carry

Last year, the state also passed a law allowing license holders to carry their handguns openly. This law does not apply to universities. Guns on campus must be concealed at all times on campus, and university officials are still encouraging people to call police if they see someone with a gun.

The fight isn’t over

Gun rights advocates are upset about campuses trying to ban guns in dorms. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has argued that such bans violate the law. On the other side, three UT-Austin professors have sued their school and the state saying that the law violates academic freedom. A hearing on that case is scheduled for later this week.

Disclosure: The University of Texas at Austin, the University of Houston, Texas Tech University, Prairie View A&M, Texas Southern University, Texas A&M University, the University of North Texas and Sam Houston State University have been financial supporters of The Texas Tribune. A complete list of Tribune donors and sponsors can be viewed here.

Author:   – The Texas Tribune