On Sunday, May 31st, SB11, or “Campus Carry,” was approved by the Texas Legislature and sent to Gov. Abbott’s desk.
The bill aims to increase the number of areas where license holders can carry concealed handguns on college campuses, including all buildings owned or operated by the university.
In the final version of SB11, college campuses may still establish “reasonable rules” and regulations regarding concealed carry areas on campus, although they are forbidden from establishing “general prohibitions” on concealed handguns.
All rules and regulations placed on concealed carry licenses can be overruled by a two-thirds vote of the board of regents, and all rules must be sent to the state legislature for approval.
The new bill is set to go into effect Aug. 1, 2016 rather than September of this year as was considered under previous iterations of SB11.
State University of New York Cortland Political Science Chair, Robert Spitzer, Ph.D, said the bill will not generate a feeling of safety on Texas campuses.
“[The bill will] do nothing to improve safety on campuses in Texas,” Spitzer said. “It raises the prospect of individuals who may be well meaning introducing guns into places like academic buildings that may increase anxiety about their presence.”
Democratic Texas Senator Rodney Ellis, who voted against SB11, said in a press release, “To those who say Campus Carry preserves our Second Amendment right to bear arms, I disagree, and I’m in good company. Our founding fathers knew guns had no place on campuses almost 200 years ago, just as they shouldn’t be there today.”
Off-Campus Senator and industrial engineering sophomore Abby Hutton, who co-sponsored last year’s Personal Protection Act in the Student Senate, said she feels safer as a result of the bill.
“If you are a licensed adult who has gone through the training to carry a concealed handgun, I would be comfortable,” Hutton said.
Speaker of the Student Senate Aaron Mitchell said he is confident that, like other states that have adopted “Campus Carry,” A&M won’t have any problems as a result of the bill.
“Now that the law has passed and the legislature will not meet again until 2017, we ask that the university, and others who are still skeptical of the new policy, trust Aggies to follow the law safely and responsibly instead of rushing to restrict us,” Mitchell said.
It is unknown whether or not the Board of Regents plans to restrict “Campus Carry” at A&M. According to SB11, Texas universities have until August 1st, 2016 when the bill goes into effect to send potential restrictions to the state legislature for approval.