Texas Lawmakers Approve Campus Carry Bill

The Texas Legislature gave final approval Sunday to a bill that would let residents carry licensed concealed weapons on public college and university campuses, The Texas Tribune reported. The measure is expected to be signed into law by Republican Governor Greg Abbott.

The legislation, known as Senate Bill 11, would require campuses to allow handguns into dormitories, classrooms, and other campus buildings. It would take effect in August 2016 at universities and August 2017 at community colleges. The final version of the bill would let institutions designate "gun-free zones" on parts of their campuses and allow the state's private universities to opt out of the campus carry requirement.

The compromise measure is being hailed as a victory by gun rights advocates, but still criticized by many students and professors as irresponsible and unnecessary.

Following the vote, University of Texas System President William McRaven, who opposed earlier versions of the legislation, issued a written statement. He said that while the final bill was not what he had hoped for, he appreciated late changes legislators had made that recognized safety considerations specific to campuses.

"It is helpful that the bill was amended to allow our campus presidents to consult with students, faculty and staff to develop rules and regulations that will govern the carrying of concealed handguns on campuses," McRaven wrote. "I look forward to working with our presidents as they craft these policies and bring them to our Board of Regents for review."

Texas now joins eight other states that allow the carrying of concealed weapons on public college campuses, including Colorado, Idaho, Kansas, Mississippi, Oregon, Utah and Wisconsin, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Nineteen others ban concealed weapons on campus, including California, Florida and New York, and 23 states, including Alabama and Arizona, leave the decision to the colleges or state board of regents, the New York Times reported.


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