Speed Reads

guns

Texas college campus gun law will start exactly 50 years after UT tower massacre

On Sunday, the Texas House gave final passage to a Senate bill requiring the state's public universities and community colleges to allow concealed handguns in buildings on campus, sending the controversial legislation to Gov. Greg Abbott (R), who says he will sign it. In a compromise, the bill allows private universities to opt out of the new requirements, and each public institution can create gun-free zones, though the scope of those zones is up for debate. Only licensed concealed-carry holders, all 21 and older, will be covered by the law.

Opponents of the "campus carry" legislation — most prominently University of Texas System President William McRaven, a retired admiral, Navy SEAL, and head of U.S. Special Operations forces — weren't placated by the compromise. And neither were some advocates — Students for Concealed Carry declared defeat and said they'll "try again in 2017."

The law, once signed, will take effect on Aug. 1, 2017, on community college campuses and a year earlier at Texas public universities and colleges, including the flagship University of Texas at Austin, where support isn't high for guns on campus. "The university was the scene of the nation's first campus mass shooting on Aug. 1, 1966, when a sniper, Charles Whitman, fired at people from the school's clock tower in a day of violence that left 16 people dead," notes The New York Times. "The campus-carry law will take effect there Aug. 1, 2016, exactly 50 years later."

Seven other states allow concealed carry on public university campuses, 19 ban concealed guns on campus, and 23 leave it up to universities or state boards of regents.