AUSTIN—The University of Texas System Board of Regents today reviewed rules and regulations for UT institutions that will govern the implementation of Senate Bill 11, also known as the campus carry law.
The board made one modification to UT Austin’s policy – striking the university’s requirement that a concealed carry license holder who carries a semi-automatic handgun on campus must do so without a chambered round of ammunition. The motion to strike the requirement was based on information from weapon safety experts who raised concerns that creating a scenario where people may need to unload their guns prior to entering a building on campus could lead to unsafe situations, such as an accidental discharge.
The board made no changes to the policies submitted by all other UT institutions, meaning they will go into effect as presented Aug. 1.
Senate Bill 11, signed by Gov. Greg Abbott on June 1, 2015, provides that license holders may carry a concealed handgun on public university campuses beginning Aug. 1, 2016. The law gives discretion to university presidents to regulate campus carry. However, the law also stipulates that the rules and regulations may not either “generally prohibit” or “have the effect of generally prohibiting” license holders from carrying concealed handguns on campus. Under Texas law, a person must be at least 21 years old to obtain a concealed carry license, therefore many undergraduate students do not qualify to hold a license.
The UT System is made up of eight academic and six health institutions and the make-up of the campuses—both in students, mission and physical layout—are very different. The board originally reviewed the campuses’ rules at a meeting in May, but decided to delay a decision until July in order to gather more information.
Most of the policies presented by UT institutions restrict guns in dormitories, but allow them in apartment style housing (generally for older students), and keep them out of laboratories where certain chemicals and flammable materials could present a dangerous situation if a gun were to discharge. All campuses prohibit the carrying of concealed handguns at ticketed sporting events.
Educating students, providing care for patients, conducting groundbreaking basic, applied and clinical research, and serving the needs of Texans and the nation for more than 130 years, The University of Texas System is one of the largest public university systems in the United States. With 14 institutions and an enrollment of more than 221,000, the UT System confers more than one-third of the state’s undergraduate degrees, educates almost two-thirds of the state’s health care professionals annually and accounts for almost 70 percent of all research funds awarded to public institutions in Texas. The UT System has an annual operating budget of $16.9 billion (FY 2016) including $3 billion in research and sponsored programs funded by federal, state, local and private sources. With about 20,000 faculty – including Nobel laureates – and more than 70,000 health care professionals, researchers, student advisors and support staff, the UT System is one of the largest employers in the state.