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University of Texas to ban guns in dorms in likely violation of state law

Setting up a clash with his state attorney general, University of Texas-Austin President Greg Fenves said today he will use his authority under the Texas “campus carry” law to stop students from keeping concealed weapons in their dorm rooms but not in classrooms, The Daily Texan reports.

Attorney General Ken Paxton said in a request for legal analysis just before Christmas that a wholesale ban on guns in dorms would explicitly flout the law:

If an institution placed a prohibition on handguns in the institution’s residential facilities, however, it would effectively prohibit license holders in those facilities from carrying concealed handguns on campus, in violation of S.B. 11. This is because “rules, regulations, or other provisions concerning the storage of handguns in dormitories” presupposes their presence in dormitories.

RELATED: Christmas gift for gun-loving Texas students: Attorney general says guns allowed in dorms

The university said in a press release that Fenves is simply adopting the 25 recommendations of his Campus Carry Working Group. The president doesn’t mention the dorm ban in his message to the community.

The recommendations give three exceptions to the dorm ban (see page 7, Policy Statement No. 16): common areas, visiting family members and staff members “whose employment responsibilities require them to be in University housing … for business purposes.”

Practically speaking, under Fenves’s order, students who live on campus cannot own guns that they keep with them, unless the university sets up gun lockers in places such as dorm common areas.

The campus-carry law takes effect Aug. 1.

RELATED: ‘Ad hominem’ attacks on gun-rights supporters convince University of Texas student to back concealed carry

In his letter to Chancellor William McRaven, Fenves hints that he has further restrictions in mind:

Since this is a new law with an unknown effect on UT Austin, we will monitor implementation and its impact on students, faculty members, and staffers. I have significant concerns about how the law will affect our ability to recruit and retain faculty members and students. If problems develop, we will work to understand the causes and make adjustments to the policies, rules, and practices, consistent with the law. Importantly and in accordance with §411.2031, Texas Government Code, these rules may be amended for purposes necessary to provide for campus safety. 

Read the press release, Fenves’s letters to the community and McRaven, and the policy recommendations.

RELATED: Texas students to protest new gun-rights law with ‘Campus (DILDO) Carry’ demonstration

RELATED: Dildo protest against campus carry at UT is illegal, but school won’t promise to enforce law

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About the Author
Associate Editor
Greg spent several years as a technology policy reporter and editor for Warren Communications News in Washington, D.C., and guest host on C-SPAN’s “The Communicators.” He co-founded the alternative newspaper PUNCH and served as a reporter, editor and columnist for The Falcon at Seattle Pacific University.

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