Texas is the eighth state to adopt the “campus carry” law, which now allows concealed handguns to be carried into classrooms, dormitories and other buildings at private and public universities, according to the National Conference of State Legislators.
Texas joins Colorado, Idaho, Mississippi, Utah, Wisconsin and Oregon, which suffered a mass shooting last week at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, according to CNN.
William McRaven, UT System Chancellor and former Navy SEALs admiral responsible for directing the raid that killed Osama bin Laden, is the most prominent opponent of SB 11, according to CNN. Ironically, he is also responsible for implementing the “campus carry” bill.
“I’ve spent my whole life around guns. I grew up in Texas hunting. I spent 37 years in the military. I like guns, but I just don’t think having them on campus is the right place,” McRaven told CNN.
McRaven admits that allowing guns on campus creates an unstable ambiance and an “environment of unknown.” He said that contrary to what some may think, “having another armed individual in the middle of an active shooter profile, in some cases could create more confusion than helping to resolve the problem.”
The Republican-run Legislature does have its supporters though. Allison Peregory, a pre-law junior at UT Austin and chairman of the Young Conservatives of Texas advocates for the bill. She said that she will feel safer going to class with a gun, and that carrying guns on campus is nothing new.
“UT has had concealed carry just on campus for the past 20 years. It’s not a foreign concept. Campus carry is not this new radical thought process,” Peregory said.
Previous laws permitted concealed carry on campus by students 21 years or older holding a concealed handgun license, but prohibited them inside campus buildings. However, SB 11 will now also allow guns to be carried inside campus buildings. School administrators still retain the right to ban guns in specific buildings though.
Advocates of the opposition strongly believe that permitting guns into the classroom is a poor idea, and they offer that it will censor free speech.
“The possibility of guns in the classroom is going to interfere with students’ free speech,” Ellen Spiro, a professor at UT’s Department of Radio-TV-Film and co-founder of Gun Free UT, said.
Economics Professor Emeritus Daniel Hamermesh withdrew from the school earlier this week out of “self protection,” according to CNN.
“With a huge group of students, my perception is that the risk that a disgruntled student might bring a gun into the classroom and start shooting at me has been substantially enhanced by the concealed-carry law,” Hamermesh wrote in his resignation letter to Gregory Fenves, the president at the University of Texas at Austin.
Arah Johnson, a third-year pharmacy student from Fort Lauderdale, Fla. shared similar views with the opposition. She said that a classroom is no place for guns, and that allowing students to carry them on campus will not make her feel safer.
“I realize that guns don’t kill people. Crazy people with guns kill people. So until legislators can figure out a way to manage that, I don’t think that any school is prepared to adopt that bill,” Johnson said.
SB 11 is scheduled to take effect Aug. 1, 2016, the 50-year anniversary of the University of Texas Tower sniper shooting that killed 14 people, one of the first mass murders on a college campus in America, according to CNN.