Campus Carry, the right Texas university students now have to carry concealed weapons on campus, provided they have the appropriate license, went into effect today, although the fall semester hasn’t started yet, the Chronicle of Higher Education reports.
The decision about where to allow licensed gun owners to carry their weapons has been left up to the individual campuses. The University of Texas at Austin, for example, won’t allow students to carry guns in residence halls but will allow them in campus apartments. Most schools, including the University of North Texas and the University of Texas at San Antonio, will allow concealed carry in university dorms.
Colleges and universities have launched education campaigns to inform students of what to expect as they arrive on campus over the next few weeks.
— Madlin Mekelburg (@madlinbmek) July 29, 2016
It’s estimated that only a small percentage of students have concealed-carry licenses. For example, out of 5,700 students on the campus at Midwestern State, roughly 300 are eligible—students must be at least 21 years old to be eligible for a concealed-carry license in Texas. Of those, fewer than a few dozen probably have licenses, judging from statewide averages for this age group.
Senate Bill 11, the law that created the Campus Carry right, doesn’t require the university to provide any special equipment, such as a safe, in which students can store the guns, which must, under the law, remain on their person or in their reasonable control at all times, except when it’s locked away.
But Texas A&M University’s flagship at College Station has set up a program allowing dorm rooms to be supplied with a dresser that has an attached, double-locked gun safe. Reports showed that 10 dressers had been ordered, at a cost to the university of about $3,000.
Numbers may be small, but many students say they’ll have the possibility that the person sitting next to them in a lecture might be carrying a concealed handgun.
“I feel like I should wear a bulletproof vest on the way to my chemistry class,” the Chronicle quoted Ana Lopéz, a sophomore at UTA and the vice president of the student group Students Against Campus Carry. She also expressed concern that, with drinking rates and sexual assaults on college campuses being what they are, the dynamics of a sexual assault could be different under Campus Carry. “I’m speaking for the girl defending herself and the guy with the gun threatening the girl,” she was quoted as saying. “It just doesn’t belong on either side.”
Other students, though, mainly the responsible ones who may have served in the military and been trained in the proper use of firearms, appreciate the need some people feel to carry concealed weapons. A firearm is not a “magic talisman” that can ward off danger, the Chronicle quoted Erick Bruno, a recent graduate of the University of Texas at Dallas, a retired Marine, and a law student in Texas this fall, as saying. But “it’s nice to have if you ever need it, just like a parachute on a plane.”