UT holds first public forum on Campus Carry law

The University of Texas at Austin is hoping to gain some insight into how to implement the new Campus Carry law.

UT is holding two public forums to figure out which, if any, areas should restrict concealed handguns. The new law only applies to concealed carry, open carry is still illegal on campus.

A person must be at least 21 years old to obtain a concealed carry permit. Concealed carry is already legal on UT's campus, the new law will expand concealed carry to campus buildings.

There are only 10 months to go until a Texas law goes into affect that will allow licensed concealed handguns in buildings at public universities.

The University said the majority of feedback so far has been against implementation of SB 11.

"Ideally the law never would have been implemented in the first place," said UT senior Allison Grabowski.

"Since that requires a background check to see if they've done any criminal activity, and it also requires proficiency in handgun safety and skills,  I think anyone that would carry on campus would be a responsible adult," said a UT female biology student.

"I'm not too worried because from what I've seen, you can already carry on campus. It's just now in certain buildings you're able to and the percentage of people who actually have a license to carry isn't very high," Andrew Zentay, a junior at UT said.

The Campus Carry Policy Working Group held the first of two public forums Wednesday evening.

Most speakers seemed to be gunning for more restrictions on university grounds and memories of school shootings had some wary of allowing guns at all.

"Personally, I don't think the answer to gun violence is more guns or violent people with guns is not violent people with guns, but it's definitely disconcerting knowing that this is a rising trend. And I frequent places that in history have been targeted," said UT sophomore Mitchell Kerbow.

"The thing that would worry me is people coming on campus that aren't licensed and want to do criminal activity and I don't think those people would go through the trouble to get a concealed handgun license in the first place," another student said. 

"I think leave the guns to the officers because they're trained in that sort of situation," said Zentay. 

Public universities only have limited discretion to regulate the Campus Carry law, but if some areas are exempt from it, students have plenty of suggestions about where they should or shouldn't be.

"I like the idea of restricting really popular study areas just because, I mean, those tend to be targets for attacks," Kerbow said.

"Every school shooting I hear about happens in places that are concentrated, such as a library or a cafeteria, even though those are typically in high school. So if you were to have a student with a CHL in a library, that could potentially protect you. I would be all for that," said another UT student.

The next public forum will be held Monday, October 5 from 3-5pm at the Texas Union. Students, faculty, alumni and other community members are allowed to speak. Speakers need to show up between 2:30-3pm to sign up.