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Newsletter > June 2015 > "New Texas Concealed Weapons Law Leaves More Questions Than Answers"
New Texas Concealed Weapons Law Leaves More Questions Than Answers
Micah Kamrass, Manley Burke, firstname.lastname@example.org
When the 2016-2017 school year begins, some public university students in the state of Texas will be permitted to bring concealed handguns into campus buildings. The new Texas law, which recently passed through the legislature over the opposition of the University of Texas Chancellor, William H. McRaven, the former Navy Admiral, contains only a few concrete specifics.
First, the law only applies to public universities. Second, the law only permits individuals who are at least 21 years old and who obtain a concealed-carry license to bring a firearm on campus. Third, in a last-second amendment to the bill, the law allows college presidents to set limits on which buildings, and which parts of which buildings students are permitted to bring concealed firearms. This provision gives university administrators one full year to devise an implementation plan for their campuses.
The law prohibits the universities from establishing regulations that would prevent licensed gun holders from carrying concealed weapons on campus, but provides no specifics about the types of buildings that university presidents can or cannot designate as gun-free buildings. This puts university administrators in an incredibly difficult position. In addition to the opposition from Chancellor McRaven, faculty members on the public campuses have expressed a fear for their own safety as a result of this new law. “People feel strongly they’re putting themselves in danger,” said Andrea Gore, the incoming chair of University of Texas at Austin’s Faculty Council.1 However, the state legislators who control the purse strings to state funding have made their support for the law clear. In describing the intent of the legislature, State Senator Brian Birdwell, a sponsor of the bill, said, “exemptions should be ‘specific and as minimalistic as possible,’ and should not mark the entire building as gun-free.”2
As far as the impact that this law will have on fraternity and sorority chapter facilities, there will not be answers until the university presidents design and announce their implementation plans. Conceivably, this law can impact every chapter residence that is owned or managed by the public universities of the state of Texas.
Part of the impetus for this law from the state legislature is to protect concealed-carry rights in both residences and meeting and gathering spaces. Most chapter facilities serve both of these purposes. However, it is hard to imagine handguns in chapter houses being a good idea. Over the next year, Greek organizations at public universities in Texas should provide guidance to campus administrators about how they would like to see this law implemented in regards to their chapter facilities. Fraternal Law will continue to monitor the implementation closely. National organizations may also want to consider developing policy statements for their local chapters in states that allow concealed weapons on campus.3
1 New Texas Law Will Allow Concealed Weapons on Campus. Now What? Mary Ellen McIntire, Chronicle of Higher Education. http://chronicle.com/article/New-Texas-Law-Will-Allow/230725/
3 Fraternal Law would like to thank Jim Ewbank an attorney at Cokinos, Bosien, and Young in Austin, Texas for his consultation and assistance for this article.