According to Senate Bill 11, Texas is required by state law to allow concealed handgun license holders to carry weapons in public universities, starting August 1, 2016.

The details of this law, pushed by Governor Gregg Abbott and the legislative republican party, have stirred up great backlash and debate from Texas schools. 

August 1 was the date in 1966 when marine and UT engineering student, Charles Whitman, shot 49 people on the campus of UT at the Tower. This event was recorded in history as the nation's second worst school shooting. So it is no surprise why several members of The University of Texas faculty and staff have protested the law, including many of the university's students. 

 

Does this law apply to every school?

Senate Bill 11 applies to all public universities in the state of Texas. Private schools have the authority to ban guns on campus under the state law. 

 

Are there any loopholes?

While schools are required to allow concealed handguns on campus classrooms, specific rules on gun-free zones may differ from school to school. For example, The University of Texas allows professors to have office gun-free zones. However, at Texas A&M, professors have to get permission from administration in order to ban guns from their offices.  The Texas law explicitly cites that only concealed guns are allowed on campus. There is no open carry law enforced on Texas school campuses. 

 

What is the controversy surrounding the law?

As stated earlier, many faculty and students at Texas schools have disagreed with this law. This law has created so much controversy that the dean of The School of Architecture at UT left his position to take a new position at The University of Pennsylvania School of Design. According to Time, he specifically left his position because of the state gun law. According to CBS News, the president of The University of Texas, Gregory L. Fenves, has expressed disapproval of the state law as well.  He is reported saying he does not not believe guns have any place at school. The UT System Board of Regents can amend the campus rules with a two-thirds vote within 30 days, according to the school. 

This specific state law has caused many professors to rethink the topics of discussion in their classrooms. While some teachers are considering compromising their topic selections to avoid controversial topics that might elicit anger in students, other teachers are choosing to uphold the integrity of their teaching by not choosing to avoid controversial topics. 

 

Despite the backlash and heated debate this Texas law has incited, it has already been put into effect. It is our responsibility as law abiding citizens to be informed and aware of laws like this one. 

 

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