University of Texas asks community’s opinion on campus carry

UT Austin's campus carry working group held their first public forum (KXAN Photo)
UT Austin's campus carry working group held their first public forum (KXAN Photo)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — The University of Texas is asking the public what they think about allowing guns inside buildings on campus. Despite the shooting at an Oregon community college, fewer people turned out for a forum about on guns on UT’s campus than one held last week.

The University of Texas is trying to determine how to implement a new law that gives universities the option of allowing handguns in buildings on campus. This was the last chance for people to weigh in on the campus carry debate during UT’s second public forum. UT will now take the input they received at this meeting and the one last week and try to determine where guns will be allowed on campus.

Over the past 20 years UT students with licenses have been allowed to carry concealed handgun in public spaces, but not inside buildings.

Senate bill 11, passed this spring, expands the existing law to classrooms and other campus buildings. The law changes starting Aug. 1, 2016.

Scarlett Clay doesn’t just work at UT, she’s a mother whose daughter is part of this year’s freshman class. She believes guns in classrooms could make the university a safer place.

“I think I’m fearful for her now and so I see this as a chance to increase security on campus and add another layer of security that’s no cost to the university,” said Clay.

But there are others who feel just the opposite. Some professors stood up saying they’ll retire if guns are allowed in their classrooms.

“If there’s a backpack and someone has a gun in it or there’s one in a dorm room and a suicidal kid has access to a gun, something bad will happen,” said Ellen Spiro.

At least one student, however, said more guns can mean more security.

“It’s just a sense of you know there’s somebody who has a head on their shoulder, sitting there armed ready to take care of the threat if there is one,” said sophomore Cohen Crenwelge.

But still others say regardless of the law, if someone wants to bring a gun in a classroom to cause harm…no law will stop them.

“I don’t think a law or a couple words on a piece of paper is going to stop that,” said freshman Colin Davis.

Even though there’s not another public forum, you can still weigh in on campus carry online. Click here to an online survey that’s still open. The new law is fairly vague when it comes to just how many areas can become gun-free zones. Senate Bill 11 says colleges can write reasonable rules about where C-H-L holders can carry a gun on campus and where the guns are stored. But the law says those rules cannot generally prohibit license holders from carrying guns on campus. Critics of the campus carry law want university officials to make gun-free zones as wide as possible…taking in classrooms and offices. But proponents of concealed carry rights say rules like this would run afoul of the law.

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