In recommending how Texas State University should comply with a new state campus carry law, a task force says it shouldn’t provide storage for handguns but should ban the guns from places where students are counseled or children come to campus.
The suggestions, which were issued this week, won't immediately go into effect. University President Denise Trauth is seeking input on the proposals, which need the Texas State University System Board of Regents’ approval. That probably won’t happen until the spring. The law doesn't go into effect until Aug. 1.
The university has called three public forums for next week to discuss the ideas.
The task force raised cost and security concerns about providing gun storage on campus. It noted that Texas State has many satellite parts of campus that aren't attached to the main campus in San Marcos, so the university would probably have to build multiple storage facilities. That, the task force said, would "greatly increase cost to the university."
The areas populated by children that should be exempt from the rule include a child development center, a center for autism research, a speech and language therapy center, and areas where summer camps are held, the task force said. The group said children could confuse guns for toys or might not know how to behave if they see a gun.
"Young children may exhibit behaviors that are unpredictable and aggressive," the task force said.
The task force said it wants to exempt areas where students are counseled because people who visit there could be especially emotional or volatile. Counselors, as well as people using the counseling services, need to feel safe, the task force said.
The task force also recommended exempting sports stadiums, the president's house, the student affairs office and the board of regents meeting room.
Missing from the exempted areas are classrooms, a location that many professors across the state have asked to be gun-free. Some professors, especially at the University of Texas at Austin, have said they would feel unsafe knowing that their students might have guns. Emotional debate could be stifled, they said.
But some wonder whether exempting all classrooms would veer too far from the spirit of the law. The campus carry law, passed this year, allows for people with concealed handgun licenses to carry on campus. But it also allows administrators to declare some gun-free zones. The zones can't have the broad cumulative effect of making entire universities gun-free.
All of the state's public universities are deciding where to declare gun-free zones. The bill's authors have mostly stayed out of the debate, other than to say they expect the universities will do the right thing.
"After 20 years of resounding success with the CHL program, the arbitrary prohibition of self-defense at our public universities has been appropriately lifted—campus carry is the law in Texas," said the main author, Sen. Brian Birdwell, R-Granbury, in a recent statement. "I am confident that our university presidents and regents will strictly adhere to both the letter and spirit of Senate Bill 11, and I look forward to the legislative review of their hard work in September."
Disclosure: The Texas State University System and the University of Texas at Austin are corporate sponsors of The Texas Tribune. A complete list of Tribune donors and sponsors can be viewed here.