Texas has implemented what is known as the “campus carry law.”
The law, which took effect Monday, permits those over 21 years old with concealed handgun licenses to take their handguns onto public university campuses.
Under the law, handguns will be allowed in classrooms, dorms, and other campus buildings, although the specifics will vary from school to school. The firearms must be kept holstered and concealed.
Texas is the eighth state in the country to permit guns on campuses in some fashion, according to Reuters.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed the measure authorizing concealed carry on campuses of public universities in June last year.
“By signing these bills into law, Texans can be assured that their Second Amendment rights will be stronger and more secure than ever before,” Abbott said at the time.
Jamie Lee, a graduate this year of the University of Texas at Austin, told CNN that she felt the law created an unsafe environment.
“We are a learning institution with so many students that are young and living on their own for the first time,” Lee said. “How many parents do you think are thrilled to suddenly know that the campus where their child sleeps, eats, and does everything else now has the possibility of guns on it? In the hands not of trained officers, but civilians.”
Grant Prengler, a rising sophomore at the university, disagreed.
“As there are no metal detectors or other safety measures in place to enter campus, I don’t see why a bad person with a gun can’t come onto campus with or without campus carry laws in place,” he said. “God forbid a shooter with mal intent is loose on campus, I would feel good knowing that a classmate has a firearm and knows how to use it to protect the class from harm,” he told CNN.
The implementation of the law coincides with the 50th anniversary of the mass shooting at the University of Texas at Austin that left 14 people dead on campus and over 30 wounded. On August 1, 1966, Charles Whitman, an engineering student and former Marine, scaled the University’s clock tower and went on a shooting rampage just before noon.
“I do not believe handguns belong on a university campus, so this decision has been the greatest challenge of my presidency to date,” the president of the University of Texas at Austin, Gregory L. Fenves, said in a statement. “However, as president, I have an obligation to uphold the law.”