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With Campus Carry In Effect, Questions Remain For University Presidents

University of North Texas/Twitter
The University of North Texas had a student population of about 37,000 in the 2015-2016 school year.

Texas’ campus carry law went into effect this week, which allows people with concealed handgun licenses to carry their weapons onto public universities. University of North Texas President Neal Smatresk is one of many school administrators wrestling with how to enforce the law. 

He talked about how the law will be enforced when the fall semester begins Aug. 29.

Interview Highlights: Neal Smatresk…

…On how campus carry will work at UNT:

“Well generally, you can carry concealed handguns if you are a legal permit holder on any public part of our campus, roads and walkways. There are several places where they’re restricted. In fact, there are 13 specific facilities or parts of buildings that are restricted. That includes certain laboratories where there could be immediate issues with life safety, our chapels, [and] places where very large special events occur.” 

Related: Where Texas’ Private Universities Stand on Campus Carry [Texas Tribune]

Related: Campus Carry Tracker [Dallas Morning News]

…On campus safety with the new law:

Credit University of North Texas
UNT President Neal Smatresk.

“In the words of many of my fellow presidents here in Texas, none of us know how this particular law will make the campus more secure. By the same token, there is no evidence on a national level that places that allow concealed handgun license-holders to carry weapons onto campus has made those campuses less safe. To the best of my knowledge, no recorded incident of a concealed weapon holder committing a violent act on a campus. The smart money is on right now that there will be little practical effect, but there are emotional effects.”

…On his biggest concern with campus carry:

“Really the biggest concern is the emotional effect on faculty, staff and students. Those who feel less secure are going to have issues that could impede their ability to their job or their comfort level and satisfaction at work; or in the case of a student, their learning environment. Overcoming those and helping people to carry on regardless of their fears and concerns is the largest problem we’re facing currently.”

Neal Smatresk is the president of the University of North Texas in Denton. 

Former KERA staffer Krystina Martinez was an assistant producer. She produced local content for Morning Edition and She also produced The Friday Conversation, a weekly series of conversations with North Texas newsmakers. Krystina was also the backup newscaster for the Texas Standard.
Rick Holter was KERA's vice president of news. He oversaw news coverage on all of KERA's platforms – radio, digital and television. Under his leadership, KERA News earned more than 200 local, regional and national awards, including the station's first two national Edward R. Murrow Awards. He and the KERA News staff were also part of NPR's Ebola-coverage team that won a George Foster Peabody Award, broadcasting's highest honor.