The news lately is replete with stories about university implementation of the so-called campus carry law, which will permit licensed carriers of concealed firearms to bring their weapons into campus buildings. Universities have until the next school year to formulate a plan, while community colleges have an extra year to prepare.
Media reports are also focusing on a separate—but related—issue, involving the "open carry" of firearms. This law takes effect on Jan. 1, which means we will soon witness a plethora of holstered weapons in full view. It's a complicated statute, but for those in public higher education it is important to realize first that open carry and campus carry are two different things. Simply put, open carry does not apply to colleges or universities.
Here is the open carry law, HB 910.
Here is the campus carry law, SB 11.
As for campus carry, the law permits institutions to create gun-free zones on campus. This is the chief point of controversy presently. A UT-Austin panel has put forth a proposal to allow weapons in classrooms, but not in offices. Faculty critics jumped all over this idea, preferring instead a ban on guns in classes as well as other sites. Whatever happens, court challenges may follow.
Based on statements by the sponsors of campus carry, a ban on classrooms goes too far. They more likely had in mind prohibitions at sports facilities, dormitories, and health centers. "Legislative intent" is an important factor in how laws are interpreted.
If institutions attempt to ban guns from classrooms (based on the oft-expressed need to foster free expression and debate), many observers believe the law will be amended in 2017, during the next Regular Session, closing the exemptions.
An interesting question: If guns are banned from faculty offices but not classrooms, and a legally armed student wants to follow a professor to the office for private consultation, how would that work? Many students don't use cars, getting to class via public transportation or shuttles, so they can't just drop by their vehicle to store a weapon.