A University of Texas advisory committee has reluctantly recommended allowing handguns in classrooms when a state law goes into effect next year, saying on Thursday it cannot bar the firearms under the state measure.
On Aug. 1, 2016, a so-called state "campus carry" law goes into effect allowing people 21 and older with a concealed handgun license to carry handguns in classrooms and buildings throughout the University of Texas system, one of the nation's largest with an enrollment of more than 214,000 students.
While the university could not defy the state law, it could have gone to court to fight the measure.
The 19-member committee, which examined how to implement the so-called campus carry, heard strong opposition from students, alumni and faculty about allowing guns in more places.
The group included university faculty and staff and reported to University President Gregory L. Fenves.
Professors told the panel they feared discussing grades with a pistol-packing student, while others said youths and firearms were a deadly combination.
The committee also heard from a smaller group of people who said campus carry would increase safety since people with permits to carry concealed weapons could prevent a mass shooting.
"The Working Group is aware of, and sympathetic to, the overwhelming sentiment on campus that concealed carry should not be permitted in classrooms," the group wrote.
"Nevertheless, the Working Group does not recommend that classrooms should be designated a gun-exclusion zone."
Thus providing novel reasons in support of online classes.
And for an additional reason for that owl to take flight, this all will come to pass on the 50th anniversary of the infamous University of Texas clock tower mass shooting:University of Texas System Chancellor William McRaven, a retired Navy admiral who led the U.S. Special Operations Command and organized the raid that killed Osama bin Laden, said the law would be detrimental to student safety.
Governor Greg Abbott, a Republican, has said the law could prevent mass shootings because someone with a licensed concealed weapon could be on campus ready to confront a potential gunman.
Public universities will be required to allow campus carry as of Aug. 1, the 50th anniversary of one of the deadliest U.S. gun incidents on a campus. On that day, Charles Whitman killed 16 people and wounded 31 after firing from a perch atop the University of Texas at Austin campus' clock tower.