College students in Texas who plan on attending classes while carrying guns on campus shouldn't be discriminated against for exercising their legal rights to do so, a group of state lawmakers argued Tuesday ahead of the law going into effect this coming summer. The senators, all Republicans and members of the Senate State Affairs Committee, were appealing to the state's six university chancellors, according to a report from the Texas Tribune.
"They have a right to carry [guns] and have passed a background check," said the committee's chairperson, Sen. Joan Huffman. "I hope you don't put these individuals in a place where they are treated differently than other students."
The new law would expand on the existing law that allows licensed Texans to carry concealed firearms on public university campuses. Under the new legislation, certain buildings on campus would be able to ban guns, provided guns are not "generally" prohibited on public school grounds. Private schools in the state are afforded the right to create their own policies regarding carrying guns on school grounds.
Advocates of the state's "campus carry" law, which is scheduled to be enacted in August prior to the start of the 2016 fall semester, share similar sentiments to those of Huffman, but those in opposition are seeking clarification to exactly how the law will work. In particular, it is unclear when exactly students would be permitted to carry guns on campus because the law says it can only happen when school is not in session, local NBC news affiliate KXAN-TV reported.
“Some departments saying when you see someone open carry you can ask for a permit or are you prohibited from asking for a permit and people are interpreting it in different ways and I don’t think that is in the interest of public safety either,” said Andrea Brauer, the executive director of Texas Gun Sense, a nonprofit organization that works to prevent gun violence in the state.
Still, the law will probably end up being contested in court, the chancellor at The University of Texas System said Tuesday at the Texas State Capitol in front of the Committee on State Affairs. “We think it is likely that those rules will be subjected to legal challenges through lawsuits filed by persons on one side or the other of the debate,” McRaven said, the Dallas Morning News reported.