Students and faculty members at public and private universities in Texas could be allowed to carry concealed handguns into classrooms, dormitories and other buildings under a bill passed by the Texas Legislature.
The campus-carry bill is expected to be signed into law by Governor Greg Abbott. It would take effect in August 2016 at universities and August 2017 at community colleges, reported the New York Times.
Texas will be one of eight states to allow the carrying of concealed weapons on public college campuses, joining Colorado, Idaho, Kansas, Mississippi, Oregon, Utah and Wisconsin, according to the Times. Nineteen others ban concealed weapons on campus, including California, Florida and New York, and 23 others, including Alabama and Arizona, leave the decision to the colleges or state board of regents.
In addition to the campus-carry bill, lawmakers also approved an open-carry bill, which gives those licensed to have a concealed weapon the option of carrying it openly in a holster, although open carry will not be allowed on a college campus.
The bill gives private and independent colleges the option of opting out entirely. Public colleges have no such option, the Times said, but lawmakers allowed university presidents at public institutions to come up with concealed-weapons regulations that could let them establish gun-free zones on their campuses. The bill says university officials can establish “reasonable rules,” but states those regulations cannot “generally prohibit” license holders from carrying concealed handguns on campus.