A new Texas law allowing students 21 years-old and over to carry concealed handguns on college and university campuses went into effect on Monday, 50 years to the day of the infamous University of Texas mass shooting in Austin.
The law has been subject to some controversy since its passage, with top Republican officials in the state like Gov. Greg Abbot and Attorney General Ken Paxton advocating its merits, while others have bemoaned the implications of allowing weapons in what is supposed to be a learning environment.
In July, three University of Texas professors sued the state to block the law, and a preliminary hearing to consider an injunction will commence Thursday.
“Compelling professors at a public university to allow, without any limitation or restriction, students to carry concealed guns in their classrooms chills their First Amendment rights to academic freedom,” the lawsuit argues.
According to the governor’s office, the law “only authorizes those who go through the special training and background” to carry handguns on public campuses.
Private colleges in Texas may continue their anti-concealed carry policies, however, and guns are still prohibited at state university stadiums, arenas, and chemistry labs, or wherever chemicals are stored.
Despite exceptions in the law, some college students in the Lone State State still don’t agree with the new policy.
“(Concealed carry) brings an air to the campus that you don’t feel safe and you feel that you always have to be protected,” said University of Texas graduate student, Rachel Warburton.
Texas is now the fifth state in the union to enact a campus carry law with virtually no restrictions, the others being Tennessee, Colorado, Utah and Idaho.
Mississippi, Arkansas, Kansas, Wisconsin and Oregon also allow concealed weapons on state campuses, but individual colleges and universities in those states can restrict who may carry and in what locations.
August 1, 1966, commemorates the 50th anniversary of the University of Texas massacre, when ex-Marine Charles Whitman shot more than 40 people from the main campus tower with a variety of weapons at his disposal, killing 16.
[Reuters] [PBS] [BBC] [Photo courtesy Grant Halverson/Getty Images via Dallas Morning News]