On Tuesday, August 1, Texas’ campus carry law goes into effect for community colleges around the state. As previously reported, Senate Bill 11 – legislation prioritized by Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick during the 2015 legislative session and signed into law by Governor Greg Abbott – took effect for four-year public colleges and universities one year ago. The law set the implementation date for public junior colleges as August 1, 2017.
As expected, adult faculty, staff and student License to Carry holders have behaved in the same law-abiding, responsible manner on public college and university campuses as they have everywhere else in the State of Texas for the more than twenty years the carry law has been in effect. Naysayers’ predictions of increased crimes involving firearms at these institutions have, unsurprisingly, not come to pass. In a recent article in the Austin American Statesman (“Campus Carry: No problems so far at UT-Austin”), SB 11 author Sen. Brian Birdwell stated: “After decades of resounding success with the concealed handgun license program in Texas, I’m not the least bit surprised to see the campus carry law being implemented successfully and without incident. It’s a testament both to the irrationality of the original prohibition and the law-abiding nature of handgun license holders.”
But the positive track record that licensees have built on campus has not deterred three University of Texas professors, backed by gun control activists, from continuing to file misguided legal challenges to the law. In a victory earlier this month for Attorney General Ken Paxton, whose office has staunchly defended the law, U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel dismissed the professors’ initial lawsuit to block implementation of the law in part because the plaintiffs did not present “concrete evidence to substantiate their fears” that guns in the classroom would have a chilling effect on free speech. The trio quickly filed an appeal of his decision to the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, claiming that the federal judge’s ruling only addressed First Amendment – and not other – claims.
So while the anti-gun lawsuits continue, campus carry rolls right on. In 2017, two more states – Georgia and Arkansas – followed Texas in amending their statutes to allow law-abiding, adult college faculty, staff and student License to Carry holders to legally possess handguns at public institutions of higher education. And now those same categories of individuals will be able to protect themselves at community colleges throughout the Lone Star State.