UT's Campus Carry 'Working Group' releases recommendations

On August 1st, UT students like Allison Peregory will be able to carry concealed weapons into campus buildings -- even classrooms.

"I turned 21 this past October and I'm going for my CHL class this Saturday actually," she said.

Peregory says she might carry her gun with her, she might not.

"It's totally at my discretion but that's kind of like the beauty of the law," Peregory said.

After three months of work , including two public hearings and much research and discussion, the 19-member Campus Carry Policy Working Group has delivered 25 recommendations to President Gregory Fenves on how to implement Senate Bill 11.

"Let me be perfectly clear about this: every member of the working group...and that includes those who are gun owners and license holders, thinks that it would be best if we did not have handguns in the classroom," said working group chair Steven Goode.

A few of the top ideas:

  • License holding students who carry on campus must have the gun on them at all times -- meaning in a holster or in a backpack or bag close enough to get to.
  • Handguns will be allowed in classrooms.  They will not be allowed in places like campus health centers, child care facilities, laboratories and sporting events.
  • While parents can carry concealed into residence halls, students can't.

Goode says the vast majority of UT students live off campus and most of the students who do live in dorms aren't old enough to get a CHL yet.

"Only about one-percent of them live in on-campus residence halls so any restriction that we would place would effect only a very tiny number of students and is not close to being a general prohibition on campus of campus carry," Goode said

"Gun Free UT" is a group made of students and teachers who never wanted this law to pass.

Neuroscience professor Max Snodderly is part of that group.

"We were disappointed.  We felt that the law permits more latitude than they have recommended," Snodderly said.

He says Gun Free UT feels the working group could have made classrooms gun-free zones.

"Classrooms are the heart of the University.  And guns don't belong there," Snodderly said.

Antonia Okafor goes to UT Dallas but she's the Regional Director for "Students for Concealed Carry."

She's mostly happy with UT Austin's recommendations.

"The biggest concern we have is that they require that if you have a semi-automatic handgun that there is no ammunition in the chamber which we feel is counter-productive to what the intent of the law is," Okafor said.

The recommendations are just that -- recommendations -- and now they're in the hands of President Fenves.

"We hope he will be in fact more progressive than the recommendations.  But if he doesn't, then we will be considering what our options are," Snodderly said.

Fenves will use these recommendations to make final rules to send along to the regents.
  
The regents can amend or reject them with a two-thirds vote.

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