The Texas Senate passed a bill Sunday allowing concealed handguns in campus classrooms, dorms and buildings at every public college and university.
Approved by the House, this bill allows for “gun-free zones” on campuses, but only for protection of sensitive areas such as bio-containment facilities. While the law will not take effect until Aug. 1, 2016, the bill passed with a final vote of 20-11.
The only controversy in SB 11, also known as the campus carry bill, is that it exempts private universities, and does not allow concealed weapons on their campuses.
Republican state Sen. Brian Birdwell defended this exception to The Statesman, saying “it was not right to tell private property owners to handle their property.” He was also quoted by the Texas Tribune that excluding private universities allows public college campuses to be as “permissive and accessible” to handgun license holders as possible, while the private institutions could remain “specific and minimalistic” when discussing restricted gun areas.
To keep both Republicans and Democrats happy, every public campus “gun-free zone” must be discussed with the students and the faculty in order to properly protect “the uniqueness of the campus environment.” Once all student and faculty have come to an agreement regarding the zone, the board of regents must step in and approve each individual request. The board is allotted 90 days to review and, if there is opposition to any rule, they must have a two-thirds vote to revise.
If the board of regents is satisfied, the next step for the “gun-free zone” is to go to the legislature and justify the zone. The House and the Senate oversight committees then monitor the bill is implemented on each campus.