Texas A&M Plans To Allow Guns In Dorms, Classrooms

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Texas A&M University System has released its campus-carry proposal, and it looks like it's among the least restrictive policies yet put out by a Texas public university.

Starting August 1, when the state's campus-carry law goes into effect, guns will be allowed in dorms at Texas A&M. Guns will be allowed in classrooms. They will even be allowed in some science labs, unless, specifically, the lab contains MRI machines, select types of biological toxins (which exist in three Texas A&M labs total), hazardous materials that can cause "catastrophic harm due to a negligent discharge" or high-risk research participants who have "behavioral or mental issues."

Guns will be banned in legal clinics, counseling centers, sporting venues, anywhere children are likely to be present and rooms where disciplinary administrative investigations take place. The university's task force also allowed for faculty members to request that guns be off-limits in their own offices. According to the task force's survey, faculty was worried about "possible violent responses from angry students regarding poor academic performance, and feelings of vulnerability due to office location."

The task force's survey notes that faculty members were the most likely to say guns should be banned in every building across campus. Students, on the other hand, mostly just said they would like guns banned at sporting events and, specifically, at the Memorial Student Center because of its status as a "sacred place of honor," according to students, "and the presence of handguns would be regarded as disrespectful." Guns are still allowed there, unless polling is taking place.

Other students, however, worried that allowing guns in dorms would make them easily accessible to people who want to steal them, or to people who are drunk who think the gun is cool and then accidentally shoot and even kill someone. The task force appears to find a middle ground, though, by recommending that students be required to keep the gun in a locked safe that they can rent or buy from the university. That way, the university gets to stay on Attorney General Ken Paxton's good side, after he ruled that banning guns in dorms violated the campus carry law because it's too restrictive.

Some universities haven't seemed to care. Both the University of Houston and the University of Texas went ahead and banned them in dorms, and pretty much every other imaginable place allowed under the law. Universities like Texas Tech and, now, Texas A&M, however, have mostly only banned them where the law already requires them to and where it is most obvious that guns don't belong, like (most) science labs and counseling centers.

The only way a public university is not allowed to restrict guns is if it simply bans them "everywhere". But they are allowed to use their discretion and to come up with policies like this one using student and faculty input.

Private universities, on the other hand, are allowed to opt out of the law. So far, not a single private university in Texas has indicated that they'll be allowing guns on campus. Specifically, Rice University made clear that basically no one wanted campus carry and, in fact, said Rice President David Leebron, every student or faculty group that the university consulted with “overwhelmingly opposed it.”

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