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The Voter’s Speakeasy featuring unbiased reporting and insight into life at Vote Smart from our staff, interns, and volunteers.

“Campus Carry” versus “Gun Free”

2016 August 04

As the University of Texas at Austin gears up to implement SB 11, or what is commonly known as “campus carry,” it finds itself at the crux of the passionate debate about gun policies that is concerning many Americans.

SB 11 faces backlash from a number of professors and students who reject the presence of guns in classrooms; while many legislators and gun rights supporters champion the new law and its potential to protect students and prevent shootings.

Ten months ago, the UT community started an online petition with over 8,000 signatures to ask Governor Greg Abbott to repeal SB 11, and now three UT Austin professors are suing the University of Texas at Austin and the state of Texas itself and asking a federal judge to stop the legislation from going into effect before the first day of classes in late August.

Historically, however, UT Austin policy has allowed license holders to carry concealed handguns on campus grounds (though not in buildings) for 20 years. Other states also already have laws in place or in the works that are similar to Texas SB 11.

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, Colorado, Idaho, Kansas, Mississippi, Oregon, Texas, Utah, and Wisconsin now allow any individual on a public college or university campus to carry a concealed handgun.

Arkansas and Tennessee follow a slightly different law, allowing only campus employees to carry handguns on campus premises.

Nevada, Montana, and Florida have recently drafted their own “campus carry” laws in the past couple years, though ...

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