In the wake of Texas state legislators approving a bill that would allow students to carry concealed firearms onto college campuses, university officials are expressing their concerns over the safety of their institutions.
While the legislation in its entirety was not supported by many university administrators, the bill still gave leeway to universities, allowing the schools to ban concealed weapons from specific areas of their campuses.
“While it is not what we had hoped for, I respect the Legislature’s decision,” William McRaven, the University of Texas chancellor, said after the vote, reported the Los Angeles Times.
Supporters say the law will allow students to defend themselves in case of another on-campus shooting incident similar to the 2007 Virginia Tech shooting.
Those who oppose the new law have been vocal.
“The perception in academia will be that Texas is a free-fire zone with yokels in the classroom packing heat,” Lynn Tatum, a professor at Baylor University in Waco, Texas, said about the decision, reported The New York Times.
Still, supporters believe the law should not punish those who wish to protect themselves while walking to classes, the cafeteria, or to their vehicles at night.
“Concealed handgun license holders are the safest, most responsible gun owners in Texas. It is irresponsible on our part to disarm the good guys where violent offenders disregard the law,” said state Sen. Donna Campbell, a Republican.
Some students were concerned about the increased violence the concealed weapons could bring, particularly during a discussion in the classroom.
“We’re very concerned,” said Ashley Alcantara, a junior studying government at the University of Texas at Austin. “In the classroom there are times when conversations can get heated. It changes the learning environment when there is that risk.”
When the law goes into effect in August 2016, it will make Texas the eighth state to allow concealed firearms on college campuses. Colorado, Idaho, Wisconsin, Oregon, Mississippi, Kansas and Utah already allow for the practice, the Los Angeles Times reported.
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