The Campus Carry bill includes the ability for University presidents to designate certain areas as exempt from carry, but the bill’s author, Sen. Birdwell, spoke extensively to establish legislative intent on the matters. The conference committee report stated that while presidents may specify “no-carry” zones, they have to be for specific justifiable reasons and cannot “generally” prohibit carry on the campus itself.
Birdwell gave some very specific examples — he mentioned one Texas university that has a biocontainment lab, where strains of Anthrax, Ebola, and other such viruses are kept on hand for research purposes, and that a university president might choose to specifically exempt that particular building. However, Birdwell made it very clear that exceptions to the carry rule should be rare.
Other Senators raised questions including “what about a common area where a television is present — if they’re all gathered and watching a football game, that could get rowdy” (paraphrased) and Birdwell said that definitely no, that is not a good enough or justifiable reason to exclude carry.
Some of the questions were along the lines of inflammatory statements; Sen. Sylvia Garcia asked if a freshman dorm could be excluded during finals week, as she recalled that being the most traumatic time of her college years. Birdwell’s response was succinct: “No, ma’am.”
Garcia ended her testimony by saying “campuses should be an environment free and open to learning… and guns are a horrible dysfunction to that and a real danger to our children.” Birdwell disagreed, pointing out that CHL holders are not children, they’re a minimum of 21 years of age.
Sen. Huffman clarified with Sen. Birdwell that there would not be open carry on college campuses. Even if HB 910 is signed by Gov. Abbott, open carry was specifically precluded from college campuses by design of the original bills. While it would be legal for a CHL holder to carry concealed on the public grounds and sidewalks of, say, the University of Texas at Austin, it would not be legal for that same CHL holder to openly carry there.
In an unrelated note, University of Dallas president Tom Keefe stated why he’s opposed to Campus Carry: “The only people I want having guns are police and the bad guy,” he said. “I don’t want police to have to sort out who is John Wayne coming to the rescue.”