UT president addresses campus carry as it goes into effect Monday

UT President Greg Fenves addresses campus carry on its first day in effect. Aug. 1, 2016 (KXAN Photo/Phil Prazan)
UT President Greg Fenves addresses campus carry on its first day in effect. Aug. 1, 2016 (KXAN Photo/Phil Prazan)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — University of Texas at Austin President Greg Fenves and campus leaders addressed the implementation of campus carry, Monday morning.

Fenves says his remarks later Monday afternoon at the UT Tower Garden re-dedication ceremony will be confined to the victims and survivors of the Aug. 1, 1966 mass shooting.

Campus carry goes into effect at public colleges statewide Monday. Last week, KXAN reported UT staff were scrambling to make last-minute preparations to inform students, faculty and visitors of where they can and cannot carry a concealed weapon.

More than 700 signs around campus, warning gun owners where their concealed firearms are still banned. Most of the signs are near labs where students work with flammable chemicals.

The law still faces a legal challenge.

A lawyer representing three UT professors suing the state says he plans to ask a judge to block the law later this week.

“I think it feels less safe. I think it effects us who teach difficult topics,” said Professor Pascale Bos, a history professor who awaits the results from three of her colleagues suing the university and the state to try and stop campus carry on 1st amendment grounds.

No matter the outcome, she expects more push back, including faculty attempting to bans guns on their own and taking it to court.

‘I think the lawsuit is the first step. We will have to see what happens. It may, in fact, might not be the last lawsuit,” said Bos.

“I think the professors should go back to school to learn what the Constitution actually means,” said Michael Cargill from Central Texas Gun Works. He attended the UT Tower memorial and pushed for campus carry to become law. He says the goal of the law is to place the individual rights above a groups opinions. “Their rights are not being violated at all. This is about personal safety. This is about individual safety.”

Jim George is the lawyer for the three professors suing the University. Thursday at 2 p.m., is when he says he’ll ask a federal judge here in Austin to temporarily stop campus carry from taking effect until the trial is set later this fall. He tells KXAN the state has until Monday to file a response.

What gun laws could be coming to Texas next session?

The ideas for next legislative session are already floating around. They break down into two groups: where people can carry and how people can carry their guns.

One idea is change campus carry. Right now we have a patchwork of gun free zones. People can carry in most classrooms but not the individual offices of many professors. There are about 1,800 laboratories on campus; but licensed holders can’t carry in 380 of them because of hazardous materials. There will be attempts to add more gun free zones and to eliminate gun free zones.

Another idea is to get rid of that 51 percent rule. Right now in Texas, license holders cannot carry into a bar or a business that has 51 percent or more of its sales based on alcohol. Gun rights activists want to re-look at this because of that Orlando shooting.a Some say if that were to happen here, bar-goers should be able to protect themselves. But others argue guns should not be where people are drinking.

Then there’s “constitutional carry.” Currently, a Texan can carry openly with a license. But many firearm advocates say the 2nd amendment is all the paperwork you need to have a gun. They want to get rid of the license requirement.

Then there will be a push from gun control supporters who really are putting their weight behind universal background checks. So the goal is to include person to person sales and gun show sales into the FBI background check system. Lawmakers go into session this January.

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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