Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton thinks that under Texas’s new campus carry law, the state’s public colleges and universities must allow guns in dorms, according to an opinion issued Monday afternoon.
This is a nonbinding opinion, and in any case, the law won’t take effect until August 2016, the beginning of the next full academic year. Nonetheless, Paxton’s opinion caused some consternation yesterday among students, faculty, and staff, who don’t like the idea of guns in a residential setting populated by young adults who all too often can’t even manage to use their own bodies safely.
Beyond that, I am confident that Paxton’s opinion is wrong. And so, in keeping with the pedagogical theme, I’ve prepared a few essay questions for those of you who take a keen interest in these developments.
1. As passed by the Texas Senate, Senate Bill 11 included a provision that exempted private universities from the requirement to allow guns on campus. The version that emerged from the House removed this exemption. The version that emerged from the conference committee, and was signed by Governor Abbott, reinstated it. Brian Birdwell, who authored SB 11 in the first place, represents Senate District 22. That means he represents Baylor University, whose chancellor, Ken Starr, expects the university will opt out of campus carry, which he considers an unwise policy. Is it fair to assume that restoring the Baylor exemption was probably a priority for the Senate, during conference negotiations? What would the Senate have been willing to give the House in exchange?
2. The text of the law gives the presidents of Texas’s public universities affected a striking amount of latitude in writing plans for their campuses, and stipulates only that administrators can’t come up with a plan that would “generally prohibit” guns on campus. Isn’t that language interestingly vague?
3. Having spent a lot of the 84th Legislature dealing with guns drama, and having inarguably passed a campus carry law by Sine Die, do you think the Lege is keen to revisit the issue in 2017? Why or why not?
Please choose one and leave your answer in the comments. (That’s assuming the comments are working again, as I hear they should be—apologies for the snafu on the previous post.)