Ignoring opposition from university leaders throughout the state, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) visited a gun range on Saturday, where he signed legislation permitting concealed firearms to be carried at public colleges and universities in Texas. Although the new law does give these schools some power to set rules regarding guns on campus, the new law specifically prohibits university presidents from “establish[ing] provisions that generally prohibit or have the effect of generally prohibiting license holders from carrying concealed handguns on the campus of the institution.”
In Texas, a concealed-carry license holder must be 21 years of age, so not all college students would be allowed to legally arm themselves under this new law.
A national poll of college and university presidents conducted last year determined that “95 percent of respondents opposed allowing concealed handguns on campus and about 91 percent cited accidental shootings of fellow students as the greatest disadvantage of allowing concealed weapons.” Moreover, while there is some uncertainty in the scholarship studying the impact of permissive gun laws on public safety, recent studies indicate that the new Texas law will likely lead to more violent crime.
A 2004 report by the National Research Council of the National Academies determined that “it is not possible to determine that there is a causal link between the passage of right-to-carry laws and crime rates.” A follow-up study by Stanford researchers, however, found that “right-to-carry gun laws are linked to an increase in violent crime.” According to this study, data suggests that right-to-carry laws increase the rate of aggravated assault by 8 percent. Though the study also suggests that such laws “are associated with an increase in rape and robbery,” this evidence is less strong than the data showing an increase in aggravated assaults.
High rates of drinking on college campuses offer another reason to be concerned about Texas’s new law. According to research by Washington State Sociology Professor Jennifer Schwartz, 40 percent of male offenders and about one-third of female offenders were drinking alcohol when they committed a homicide offense.