Sane Gun Policy from Texas? A Blueprint for Balanced State Campus Carry Laws
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merican universities are caught in the crosshairs of one of the most polarizing and contentious gun policy debates: whether to allow concealed carry on campus. Ten states have implemented "campus carry" in some form; sixteen new states considered passage last year; and a growing wave of momentum is building in favor of additional adoptions. Despite this push towards campus carry, most states adopting the policy fail to strike an effective balance between the competing rights and interests involved. When states give universities the option to opt out of the law, for example, they almost always do. Other states impose a rigid campus carry framework on universities, denying them the ability to customize implementation. The recent Texas campus carry law, in contrast, carves out a unique and effective middle ground: it requires public universities to allow concealed handguns on campus, but it empowers each university to adopt meaningful firearms policies, including the identification of campus-specific gun-free zones, based on that school's unique operations and safety concerns. This Article explores the Texas law as a model for other states considering campus carry. First, as context, the Article examines recent data on campus crime and the impact of liberalized gun laws on crime rates. Notwithstanding the safety arguments of gun-rights advocates, studies within the past year have proven that a proliferation of guns results in increased crime rates. Second, this Article surveys the other nine states that have adopted some form of campus carry, highlighting the flexibility and rigidity of each state's approach. Third, the Article explores the Texas law, in particular: its history, structural framework, and implementation by Texas universities. Finally, the article closes with conclusions from the early stages of adoption in Texas, emphasizing that the Texas law and its implementation provide a valuable blueprint for other states choosing campus carry.