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Concealed Carry Would Make College Campuses Less Safe, UT Chancellor Says

Courtesy UT Arlington
Retired Admiral William McRaven, chancellor of the University of Texas system, recently spoke at UT-Arlington.

Allowing concealed weapons to be carried on college and university campuses would create "less-safe" environments, University of Texas System Chancellor William McRaven wrote in a letter to legislative leaders on Thursday.

On Wednesday, a bill by state Sen. Brian Birdwell, R-Granbury, that would allow campus carry was referred to the Senate State Affairs Committee by Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who promised to pass it without delay. The measure already has 19 co-authors, which is enough support to bring it to the Senate floor for passage.

"Once passed we will forward the bill to the Texas House as quickly as constitutionally allowed," Patrick said in a statement. "I am very pleased that the Senate is poised to cast this historic vote."

In his letter, McRaven cautions that his opposition to the proposal stems from his concern for the safety of students, faculty and staff. He said his office has received calls from those groups, as well as law enforcement and mental health professionals, raising concerns about campus carry. 

"There is great concern that the presence of handguns, even if limited to licensed individuals age 21 or older, will lead to an increase in both accidental shootings and self-inflicted wounds," he wrote.

He also cited concerns about allowing weapons in the university system's hospitals, where emotions run high, and laboratories, where chemicals and high tech equipment are in use.

In his letter, McRaven, who became chancellor this month, makes no mention of his background. A four-star admiral, he is the former commander of U.S. Special Operations Command and is best known for leading the successful raid to kill Osama bin Laden.

However, he does note that he is, to some extent, echoing sentiments conveyed by his predecessor, former Chancellor Francisco Cigarroa, who sent similar letters in previous legislative sessions. 

Disclosure: The University of Texas System is a corporate sponsor of The Texas Tribune. A complete list of Tribune donors and sponsors can be viewed here.

The Texas Tribune provided this story.