New Texas law allows concealed guns on campus

Proponents say the new gun law could prevent mass shootings while critics say it will endanger safety at varsities.

Photo by: Shutterstock
Photo by: Shutterstock

File picture shows a man carrying a concealed firearm.

A new gun law that allows students to bring guns in campuses took effect in Texas on Monday.

According to the state “campus carry” law, students aged 21 or over can take guns into classrooms and buildings throughout public colleges if they have a concealed handgun licence.

Under the previous gun law signed in 1995, students with concealed carry permits were allowed to carry weapons on campus sidewalks, streets and parking lots.

With the new law, Texas has become the 8th state to allow people to carry properly-licenced guns on public college campuses.

In an unlucky coincidence, the new campus carry law came into effect on the 50th anniversary of the state’s 1966 clock tower mass shooting.

In this August 1,1966 file photo, smoke rises from sniper Charles Whitman's gun as he fires from the tower of the University of Texas administration building on crowds below in Austin, Texas, the US. (AP Archive)

In the early morning hours of August 1,1966, a marine-trained sniper, Charles Whitman, killed 16 people and wounded 32 others at the University of Texas at Austin.

Whitman was an architectural engineering student at that college.

He was armed with rifles, pistols and a sawed-off shotgun.

Archive picture shows Charles Whitman's arsenal. (FBI)

According to Texas Governor Greg Abbott, the new law could prevent mass shootings because someone with a licenced concealed weapon can be ready to confront a gunman.

"What campus carry does is that it only authorises those who go through the special training and background [checks to carry firearms]," he said.

Attorney General Ken Paxton, a Republican, also defended the move which he described as “constitutionally sound”.

However, the critics of the new law claim the combination of youth, firearms and college life might cause deadly situations instead of preventing mass shootings.

Courtney Dang, a third-year student at the University of Texas at Austin described the idea of campus carry as “scary”.

"There are so many students battling the stress of campus [life]. Some are unstable and we don't know who has a gun," she said.

Last month, some higher education officials tried to block the law, saying it could have a chilling effect on academic freedom.

The law allows private colleges to opt out. Most of the state's best-known private universities have done so, saying the measure runs counter to protecting student safety.

Under the state law, public universities are compelled to allow campus carry.

Guns seized by the police are displayed during a news conference in New York, Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2015. (AP Archive)

Since the beginning of this year, dozens of people have died in more than 210 mass shootings in the US, according to Gun Violence Archive.

Gun control is a controversial political issue in the United States.

Since 1994, the US Congress has not passed major gun control legislation because gun rights defenders say such measures infringe on the constitutional right to bear arms.

TRTWorld and agencies