Texas Public Colleges Can’t Ban Guns From Dorms, Says State AG

The Wall Street Journal

Earlier this year Texas passed a new law permitting licensed gun owners tocarryconcealed weaponson public campuseswith some exceptions. The states attorney general, Ken Paxton, iswarning universitiesnot to try to stretch those exceptions too far.

In an FAQ-like advisory memo, Mr. Paxton clarified what, in his offices opinion, the new campus-carry law allows and doesnt.

The measure, which takes effect in August, lifteda blanket ban on handguns oncampuses. It wasnt totally what some gun-rights supporters were hoping for, as WSJ reportedearlier. It exempts private schools entirely and letspublicuniversity leaderscreate gun-free zones.

The new law regarding carrying was passed around the same time lawmakers approved a separate measure allowing the carrying of handguns openly on the streetsand other public places; that law takes effect in January. Both were signed by Republican Gov. Greg Abbott.

Mr. Paxton emphasized in his memo released Monday that gun-free zones on campuses should be limited in scope. Its OK, he wrote, to ban concealed handguns from classrooms that pose heightened safety concerns, giving the example of classrooms shared with grade-schoolers. But banning guns from a substantial number of classrooms could conflict with the law, the attorney general said, addressing his memo to the legislations main sponsor, TexasSen. Brian Birdwell.

Schools also may not ban guns fromdormitories, he wrote:

[The law] allows an institution to establish reasonable requirements related to the location and manner in which handguns are stored within its residential facilities on campus. What is reasonable in any given circumstance will involve questions of fact. If an institution placed a prohibition on handguns in the institutions residential facilities, however, it would effectively prohibit license holders in those facilities from carrying concealed handguns on campus, in violation of S.B. 11.

The Texas Tribune notes that acampus carry task force convened by the University of Texas at Austinrecommendeda policy of requiring that firearmsat aresidence be locked in a car or gun safe. Theschoolsreport also mentionedthatmost of its students who live in on-campus university housing are younger than 21 and noteligible for a license to carry a concealed handgun.

In his memo, Mr. Paxton said the decision on whether to ban guns from a particular classroom rests with a universitys top administrator, usually a president. That officialmay not delegate the authority to individual professors.

[A]s a practical matter, if each faculty member could establish individualized rules, adequately publishing such rules and providing the notice required by S.B. 11 would be unmanageable, he wrote.

The attorney general alsosaid if a school violates a persons rights under the law, that individual could sue for injunctive relief.