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Feb 18, 2016 01:15 PM EST

University of Texas - Austin Passes Campus Concealed Carry Policy


After a contentious back-and-forth, students at the University of Texas will be allowed to carry concealed handguns in classrooms but not in campus residence halls.

UT-Austin announced the policy Wednesday in a news release, but the school's president, Gregory Fenves, made his disagreement with it known in a letter to the campus community.

The rules go into effect on Aug. 1.

"I do not believe handguns belong on a university campus, so this decision has been the greatest challenge of my presidency to date," Fenves wrote. "I empathize with the many faculty, staff, students and parents of students who signed petitions, sent emails and letters, and organized to ban guns from campus and especially classrooms. As a professor, I understand the deep concerns raised by so many. However, as president, I have an obligation to uphold the law."

According to The Austin Statesman-American, the new campus gun rules allow for the concealed carry of handguns in some common areas like dining halls and off-campus residence halls. They also allow students' family members to carry guns on campus.

The rules contain various qualifications for concealed carry, including a requirement that semiautomatic weapons cannot have any rounds of ammunition chambered. Handguns also need to holstered in a way where the "entire trigger guard area" is covered and in which the gun is secured from "unexpected jostling," The Statesman-American reported.

UT-Austin's 19-member Working Group recommended the school implement the rules based on Senate Bill 11. Passed last year, SB 11 allowed for the concealed carry of a weapon in college campus buildings, but required schools to decide on their policies for themselves.

The Working Group stated they received thousands of responses to an online survey and that their discussions on UT-Austin's campus carry rules were "often quite intense." Gun Free UT has been one of the most outspoken groups opposing the school's adoption of such a policy.

"Under the law, I cannot adopt a policy that has the general effect of excluding licensed concealed handguns from campus," Fenves wrote. "I agree with the working group that a classroom exclusion would have this effect."

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