Final rules for UT’s campus carry now set

FILE - University of Texas at Austin (KXAN File Photo)
FILE - University of Texas at Austin (KXAN File Photo)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Now that the University of Texas Board of Regents has finalized their plans for campus carry, it’s up to the schools in the UT system to make sure they have all the proper signage and information to educate the public about what they can and cannot do when it comes to carrying a concealed handgun on campus starting Aug. 1.

At Wednesday’s meeting, the board determined licensed gun owners can have a round in the chamber of semiautomatic weapons on campus, which is different than what the University of Texas at Austin president recommended. The regents also decided to let professors ban guns from their personal offices. The professors will be allowed to let people know via a sign or verbally.

UT President Greg Fenves decided in February that he would allow handguns in classrooms and the board agreed with that decision. Three professors from the University of Texas at Austin have filed a lawsuit in federal court saying forcing them to allow guns in classrooms would violate their 1st, 2nd and 14th Amendment rights. They say they should be allowed to make the decisions for themselves. The plaintiffs say they will seek a temporary injunction to stop campus carry altogether.

The open carry of handguns is still prohibited on campus.

Even though the rules are set, getting people to understand those rules is a completely different story and it could make for a very stressful fall on campus.

Senior Elyse Avina was against the new law and now worries people will not know the particulars. She formed the group Students Against Campus Carry.

“It kind of sucks. Because it’s the lethal unknown potentially. That’s what makes it more scary,” she said.

It’s a fear of UT Regents as well because of some fine lines. License holders can carry in dorm common areas, but not in the dorm rooms. They can carry in classrooms, but not in some offices. Some faculty and staff can ban guns in their offices with a sign or verbally.

“This patchwork of where you can and can’t take it into an office I think is going to confusing for students,” said 2nd amendment advocate CJ Grisham from Open Carry Texas. He came to the regent meeting.

“I think it’s a big concern. I mean, the rules are not even the same from campus to campus,” said Chairman Paul Foster.

Dr. David Daniel, the Deputy chancellor of UT-Systems, agreed, but said the rules would sink in over time.

“It may take a few days or a few weeks for the students and the residence hall managers to adapt to the situation,” said Dr. Danile.

“I’m not really sure what problems will come up. I’m sure there will be… but hopefully not,” said Avina.

She and others at UT wait for the law to take effect and whether unforeseen problems will come with it. Licensed holders can begin to carry inside college buildings on August 1.

That just happens to be the 50th anniversary of the one of the first and worst mass shootings in American history, which happened here in Austin. In 1966, Charles Whitman went to the top of the UT Tower. He killed 14 people and wounded 32 others. UT President Greg Fenves says it has nothing to do with the campus carry law.

What Campus Carry Allows

  • People who have a license to carry will be allowed to carry on campus and into campus buildings (the handgun still needs to be concealed)
  • It will still be illegal to display a firearm in campus buildings as well as campus streets, sidewalks, etc.
  • Minimum age for obtaining a license to carry is 21.
  • “Campus” means all land and buildings owned or leased by a public or private institution of higher education.
  • Schools may establish their own rules and regulations regarding “safe zones” and how students store their handguns in dormitories

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