UT Faculty Council opposes guns-on-campus legislation

Faculty members at the University of Texas adopted a resolution Monday opposing the carrying of firearms, including concealed weapons, on campus by anyone other than law enforcement officers.

The unanimous vote by the Faculty Council at the Austin flagship came days after so-called campus carry legislation sailed through a state Senate committee.

Senate Bill 11, co-authored by 19 GOP senators, would allow people with a concealed handgun license to carry a weapon into buildings on all state college and university campuses, but it would let private and independent schools restrict guns as a nod to private property rights.

Current state law generally allows concealed handguns on campus grounds but not in buildings. The Faculty Council’s position appears to favor a tightening of restrictions, as it makes no exception for campus grounds.

UT System Chancellor Bill McRaven told Gov. Greg Abbott, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and House Speaker Joe Straus in a letter last month that concealed handguns make a campus “a less-safe environment.” He didn’t specifically call for tightening current law in the letter, but neither did he make an exception for campus grounds. McRaven told the American-Statesman in an interview last month that he would favor barring concealed weapons altogether from campuses.

Bill Powers, president of the Austin campus, said he supports McRaven’s position as outlined in the letter.

UT’s Student Government is expected to adopt a resolution Tuesday evening that calls for universities to have the option of opting out of any loosening of restrictions, said Kori Rady, president of the group.

Brian McCall, chancellor of the Texas State University System, would prefer that these matters be decided by university governing boards, said spokesman Mike Wintemute. Denise Trauth, president of Texas State’s San Marcos and Round Rock campuses, echoed that view Monday.

John Sharp, chancellor of the Texas A&M University System, said in a letter last week that he has no safety concerns with campus carry, adding that he has faith in students, faculty and staff to follow the law.

A&M’s Student Senate passed a resolution in favor of campus carry before the current legislative debate, said university spokesman Lane Stephenson.

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