Beginning on August 1, 2016, the Campus Carry law goes into effect at all 4-year public universities (community colleges have until August 1, 2017). The law, SB 11, allows universities to “establish reasonable rules, regulations, or other provisions regarding the carrying of concealed handguns by license holders on the campus of the institution or on premises located on the campus of the institution.” However, those rules and regulations can’t “generally prohibit or have the effect of generally prohibiting license holders from carrying concealed handguns on the campus of the institution.”
With that direction, the University of Texas campus carry working group released their list of recommendations for implementing the law. For the most part, we are satisfied with their recommendations with the understanding that ANY restrictions are too many. However, our satisfaction is only relayed in the context of the law as written and not on our personal beliefs that any location where a gun is prohibited is unsatisfactory.
Perhaps the most surprising aspect of the report was what the working group found. Considering than so many faculty were dead set against campus carry, the working group was surprisingly logical and based on fact, not emotion. In fact, the conclusions the group came to were the exact same arguments we’ve been making since the bill was filed earlier this year. Here are just a few of the conclusions that the #gunsense crowd and their lapdog media will ignore:
- “Based on Texas DPS and University enrollment data, we estimate that less than one percent of our students will have a license to carry a handgun.” This conforms with a statement we made weeks ago on our Facebook page.”
- “Our examination of states that already have campus carry revealed little evidence of campus violence that can be directly linked to campus carry, and none that involves an intentional shooting.”
- “We found that the evidence does not support the claim that a causal link exists between campus carry and an increased rate of sexual assault.” This was a constant claim during testimony by the liberal elite to fight against the bill.
- “We found no evidence that campus carry has caused an increase in suicide rates on campuses in other states.“
The group wisely recommended that “license holders who carry a handgun on campus must carry it on or about their person at all times” when not secured in their vehicle. If students keep their firearm in their backpack they must keep it within arms reach. The school will also require students to keep their handguns in a holster with “sufficient tension or grip on the handgun to retain it in the holster even when subjected to unexpected jostling.”
One of the areas where we disagree is that firearms “be carried without a chambered round of ammunition.” In the unfortunate event that a shooter enters a classroom or other area and begins shooting, having to remember to chamber a round during the chaos of the event could mean the difference between life and death. Besides, a loaded firearm has ZERO chance of firing while firmly holstered.
We also disagree with keeping handguns out of dorms. The working group made this decision based on the fact that there are many students under 18 that live in the dorms. We believe that this is an area that could easily be mitigated by ensuring that students under 21 aren’t roomed with students over 21 to the greatest degree possible. The problem with this decision is that it will require students who have a license to take their firearm to their vehicle and then walk back to their dorm unprotected. The university should instead simply mandate that guns in shared dorms be kept in a locked safe at most. Thankfully, they made an exception for parents and family members visiting their student in the dorms. They also allowed for the carrying of firearms in common areas of the residence halls such as lounges, dining areas, and study areas.
The working group is also banning guns on “the grounds or building on which an activity sponsored by a pre-K through 12 school or educational institution is being conducted. This would include, for example, the Blanton Museum of Art when a public school field trip is being conducted there.” However, how will the university handle those places where concealed handguns are already present in a place when such an activity takes place? This sort of roving “gun free zone” is a recipe for trouble as it creates the potential that students will be caught off guard with a policy violation. It also doesn’t explain exactly how the presence of children would change the demeanor or actions of a law abiding gun owner. The fact that kids may be present shouldn’t mean that special rules apply. This policy does nothing more than take advantage of the leeway that the legislature provided and further the false belief that lawfully armed people are a threat to children. The fact is that there is no difference between a gun owner around adults and a gun owner around children. Most gun owners have their own families and their kids grow up around them. Besides, the guns will be confused and no one will ever know.
Most of the areas specifically exempted from lawful carry include the Nuclear Engineering Teaching Laboratory and on-campus child-care facilities (again, not sure why a child care facility is any different than any other place on campus); patient-care areas, including those in which professional mental health services; areas in which formal hearings are being conducted pursuant to institutional disciplinary and grievance rules; and laboratories with extremely dangerous chemicals, biologic agents, or explosive agents, and areas with equipment that is incompatible with metallic objects, such as magnetic resonance imaging machines. These were all pretty accurately predicted places that we envisioned the university being able to exempt and still comply with the law.
Much to the chagrin of the emotional activists in the anti-gun crowd, the working group wisely recognized that “excluding handguns from classrooms would have the effect of generally prohibiting license holders from carrying their handguns and so would violate S.B. 11.” Since the primary purpose and function of universities is to provide classroom education we have been saying all along that calls to ban guns in classrooms wouldn’t fly. It will be interesting to see if those “Gun Free UT” nutcase professors still try to ban guns in their fiefdom.
By and large, we were pleasantly surprised at the recommendations of the working group.We believe they largely stayed within the spirit and intent of the law. If the University of Texas – arguably the premier school in the Texas university system – can come to these mostly intelligent and rational conclusions, we expect other universities will follow their lead.