UTA holds campus carry town hall hours after Ore. shooting

Oregon is a campus carry state, where guns are allowed on college campuses. There's no word that anyone besides the suspect had a gun in Thursday's mass shooting, but the tragedy is putting the campus carry debate back in the headlines.

ARLINGTON -– Students and faculty at the University of Texas at Arlington voiced opinions and concerns on Thursday about how to implement a state law allowing guns in university buildings.

The law takes effect Aug. 1, 2016, but institutions of higher education are required to engage in feedback from the campus community during the fall.

UTA hosted the third of five town halls on Thursday evening. After the mass shooting on an Oregon college campus earlier in the day, the debate seemed more crucial than ever.

Aerospace engineering major Ben Wagner is a licensed concealed carry permit holder.

"This is an important discussion to have," Wagner said. "I fully support the right of anyone on campus to defend themselves, if someone is committing a crime. There are certain places we should look at, like dorms, that perhaps should be off-limits from allowing guns."

The Texas legislature passed Senate Bill 11 during the 2015 session, which allows guns inside public university buildings, but also allows for exemptions in certain locations on a campus-by-campus basis.

Private universities, like TCU and SMU, are exempt from the requirement to allow concealed carry permit holders to bring guns on campus, but are still expected to engage in the dialogue on the subject in the coming months.

TCU representatives say the Fort Worth university held two town halls and a debate in September, and is still taking email input from students, faculty, and staff through the end of October.

The chancellor is expected to make a recommendation to the board of trustees on a carry-conceal policy at the November meeting.

The University of North Texas in Denton says public forums have not started, but will likely take place by the middle of October. A 22-member concealed carry task force has met twice ahead of those planned forums.

An SMU spokesperson said the private institution will have a dialogue on the topic soon.

"The university will determine in the coming weeks the process to be employed to consult with students, faculty, and staff," Kent Best told News 8 on Thursday.


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