Today, public university students in Texas may now legally exercise their Second Amendment rights while attending classes — to a limited extent, in some cases — as “campus carry” goes into effect statewide.
Passed at the end of the 84th Texas Legislature despite screeching from anti-gun administrators and Democrats (and one “Republican”), S.B. 11 finally goes into effect today. While the bill represents a huge step forward for Second Amendment rights, the controversy is not yet over, as some university regents have decided to abuse their narrowly defined rulemaking authority in regards to the practice.
The author of SB 11, State Sen. Brian Birdwell (R-Waco) said the legislation was designed to give regents final say in the matter in regards to “unique, physical plant items within those universities’ campuses,” saying, “a great example would be the National Biocontainment Lab at UTMB in Galveston.” In this instance, the exception makes some sense — these facilities need to meet very strict federal regulations in order to obtain the grants that keep them running, making allowing firearms a complicated proposition.
Astoundingly, University of Texas regents have opened themselves up to an inevitable lawsuit by the Attorney General by abusing that narrowly defined authority by banning firearms in professors’ offices as well as dormitories — despite being specifically prohibited from doing so. State law prohibits the university regents from “establish[ing] provisions that generally prohibit or have the effect of generally prohibiting license holders from carrying concealed handguns on the campus of the institution.”
Birdwell felt as though this defied the intent of the legislation, and subsequently requested an opinion from Attorney General Ken Paxton — who agreed, stating that such a prohibition would “effectively prohibit license holders in those facilities from carrying concealed handguns on campus, in violation of S.B. 11.”
Considering Paxton just last week sued the City of Austin for preventing license holders from carrying within City Hall in defiance of state law, UT bureaucrats can likely expect a lawsuit as well — and they can likely expect to lose.