On May 31, the Texas legislature passed Senate Bill 11, the “Campus Carry” law. Governor Greg Abbott signed the bill into law on June 1. The bill allows license holders to carry concealed handguns on college and university campuses but includes a provision for college presidents to designate some campus areas gun-free zones. The new law will take effect in August 2016 at universities and August 2017 at community colleges. To obtain a concealed handgun license in Texas, persons must be 21 years of age.
Opponents of the bill won the concession of gun-free zones on parts of campuses provided those zones do not cover the entire campus. It allows presidents to establish reasonable rules that do not generally prohibit licensed holders from carrying weapons on campus.
Supporters of the law say it will make campuses safer because it will no longer bar licensed gun holders from protecting themselves and others when attacked, thus saving lives in mass shootings. They point to the fact that in every campus shooting event, when the gunman faced another weapon, the shooting ended, most cases in suicide.
Opponents say the presence of weapons on campus will have a chilling effect. Professors say they fear disgruntled students and administrations express concern over rising security costs and the reduction in their ability to recruit both students and faculty once the law goes into effect.
The Texas law is considerably less encompassing than laws in other states however. In Utah, for example, presidents have no discretion to limit the places handguns can be carried. And in Texas, open carry will not be allowed on campuses. Private universities have the option to opt out of campus carry altogether and declare their entire campuses gun-free zones.
Protests over the new law have included a University of Texas professor’s resignation and a student “Campus Dildo Carry” event where students carried dildos strapped to their backpacks in protest.