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Texas Campus Carry Law Goes Into Effect Today

Campus carry goes into effect today at all Texas colleges and universities.

Beginning Monday, concealed handgun license holders are allowed to carry their weapons at state colleges and universities in Texas. Not everyone’s happy about it.

The campus carry law was signed by Governor Greg Abbott last summer. It followed several campus shootings around the country. The theory: more licensed gun carriers will make colleges safer, especially from violent attacks.

William McRaven, chancellor of the University of Texas system, opposes the law. He says many fear that more guns on campus, even those carried legally, make school more dangerous.

“Clearly you could have an active shooter case if you had a CHL [concealed handgun] license holder, but you could just as easy have an active shooter with somebody who just walks off the drag with a weapon in their hand,” McRaven told KERA last fall. “So we have to be prepared to deal with active shooters immaterial of whether or not the CHL law had passed.”

McRaven is a retired Navy admiral and special operations commander. He said his job is to carry out the law while ensuring parents, students and faculty are safe.  

“Without turning the campuses into – as I’ve said before - kind of a garrison or a military base,” McRaven said. “We don’t want to do that. We want the campus environment to be welcoming. We want to make sure we are, again, adhering to the law. But at the same time, we don’t want to create an environment where there’s a lot of anxiety when students or faculty or parents come onto a campus.”

Generally speaking, the Texas law allows guns in buildings, classrooms and dorms, but rules may differ from campus to campus, as each school is required to map that out. Texas colleges and universities are allowed to specify certain gun-free zones. Private schools can prohibit guns on campus, and many have.

Related: Campus Carry Tracker [The Dallas Morning News]

With the new law, Texas joins other states with similar campus gun laws, including Kansas, Colorado and Utah.

Texas' open carry law doesn't apply to college campuses. Any handguns on campus must be holstered and kept out of sight.

Learn more about campus carry from The Texas Tribune.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Bill Zeeble has been a full-time reporter at KERA since 1992, covering everything from medicine to the Mavericks and education to environmental issues.