The University of Texas at Austin set rules to allow handguns on campus and inside classrooms, the university announced Wednesday, though it opposes the law that requires the change.
Under the new law, which goes into effect this August, licensed handgun owners in Texas can bring concealed handguns onto public college campuses. The law excludes private institutions, and Baylor, Southern Methodist, Rice and Texas Christian Universities have all vowed to still ban handguns on campus. The law does allow for some exemptions on public campuses, and the University of Texas will not allow guns to be carried in most campus residences, dining halls, private offices, labs that contain dangerous chemicals and areas where K-12 programs are held. Semiautomatic handguns can only be carried if they do not have a round in the firing chamber.
“I do not believe handguns belong on a university campus, so this decision has been the greatest challenge of my presidency to date,” Gregory Fenves, president of UT Austin, said in an email to students. “I empathize with the many faculty, staff, students and parents of students who signed petitions, sent emails and letters, and organized to ban guns from campus and especially classrooms. As a professor, I understand the deep concerns raised by so many. However, as president, I have an obligation to uphold the law.”
The university's new policies are based on the recommendations of a 19-member campus-carry working group created by Fenves last year. Students for Concealed Carry, an organization in favor of carrying firearms on campus, opposed many of the working group's recommendations and said in a statement on Wednesday that the new policies were too restrictive. The organization said it was shifting "its focus to litigation," and accused Fenves of caving to the demands of "a cabal of fear-mongering professors."