New Texas gun control law allows concealed guns on campus

People stand at a monument bearing the names of those killed in the 1 August 1966 University of Texas tower shooting that left 16 people dead, during a memorial in Austin, Texas (01 August 2016) Image copyright Reuters

A new law has come into effect in the US state of Texas that allows students to carry concealed guns on campuses.

Students aged 21 or over who have a concealed handgun permit may take guns into classrooms, under the new law.

Texas has now become one of eight US states that allows students to carry guns into college buildings.

Many higher education officials and students are concerned the law may discourage students from attending universities in the state.

But supporters of the law argue it is “critical” to self-defence and upholding constitutional rights.

Texan Republicans say the “campus carry” law could prevent another mass shooting,

They argue that deranged gunmen often target “gun-free zones” such as university campuses and cinemas because they do not meet resistance when they commit their crimes.

Image copyright AP

But critics of the new law – which came into effect on the 50th anniversary of a University of Texas mass shooting which claimed 14 lives – is an ill-conceived solution that could serve to trigger yet more violence.

The 1966 killings were carried out by former Marine Charles Whitman, 25, who brought a cache of weapons to the university’s main tower in Austin to shoot more than 40 people.

The shootings were considered one of the defining events of the time and were considered to be the first US mass shooting to be seen live on national TV. Whitman was killed by police after a 90-minute stand-off.

Some academics have argued that the law which took effect on Monday will also lead to a curtailment of free speech because students with guns could create an intimidating atmosphere which might suppress the open exchange of ideas.

The law allows students who have gun licences to take concealed weapons into college facilities, although some areas – including sports arenas and chemical labs – are off-limits.

Texan private schools and two-year community colleges are excluded from the new laws until next year.

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