FORT WORTH — Concealed handguns won’t be allowed on Texas Wesleyan University’s campus.

That’s what Wesleyan’s University Board of Trustees decided Friday, after reviewing feedback from students and faculty at the private school over the past few months.

“The feedback received from members of our campus community was overwhelmingly in favor of remaining a gun-free campus,” Wesleyan President Frederick G. Slabach said in a brief statement.

Texas Wesleyan’s decision comes as private colleges across Texas are trying to answer the same question: Should they allow concealed handguns on their campus?

he feedback received from members of our campus community was overwhelmingly in favor of remaining a gun-free campus.

Wesleyan President Frederick G. Slabach

Already, a number of private universities — including Texas Christian University, Rice University and the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth — have determined that their campuses will be off-limits to anyone carrying concealed handguns.

Starting in August, Texas becomes one of a handful of states allowing concealed weapons to be carried on some college campuses, along with Colorado, Idaho, Kansas, Mississippi, Oregon, Utah and Wisconsin, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

This has been an increasingly controversial issue in Texas since lawmakers passed a measure last year known as “campus carry,” letting licensed Texans carry concealed handguns into buildings at public universities as of August and at community colleges in 2017.

Private colleges have the ability to opt out; public universities may create gun-free zones on part, but not all, of the campus.

Starting in August, Texas becomes one of a handful of states allowing concealed weapons to be carried on some college campuses.

A separate measure allowing licensed Texans to openly carry holstered handguns throughout the state as of earlier this month does not apply to college campuses.

OK to carry in classrooms

Texans with concealed handgun licenses have been able to carry on college campuses, but not in buildings, since lawmakers approved the concealed handgun law 20 years ago, lawmakers say.

This new measure lets them carry them into dorms or classrooms, instead of requiring them to take their handguns back to their vehicles before entering the buildings.

The only people legally allowed to carry concealed handguns on campus are those who have a concealed handgun permit, meaning they are at least 21 and have met requirements including training and proficiency tests.

Officials at public colleges have said the plan could cost nearly $50 million in coming years — because additional officers, training, storage facilities and security technology would be needed — and that expense that might be passed to students.

Campus reaction varies

UT System Chancellor William McRaven has said he worries that concealed handguns will make campuses less safe because stress and guns are a bad mix.

925,000 people in Texas are licensed to carry a weapon.

Texas A&M System Chancellor John Sharp has said he has “complete trust and faith” in his students and professors, which is why Texas A&M didn’t oppose campus carry.

And UNT System Chancellor Lee Jackson has noted that the law might negatively affect a “younger than average population, some living away from home for the first time.”

In Texas, more than 925,000 people, around 4 percent of the state’s 27 million residents, have a license to carry, according to the most recent Texas Department of Public Safety statistics.

Wesleyan has held a series of open forums and reviewed email submitted by students, staff and faculty, as well as discussing the issue with the Student Government Association, Alumni Association Board, the Student Life Committee and the Board of Trustees Academic Affairs.

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(c)2016 the Fort Worth Star-Telegram

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