Guns will not be allowed at Rice University, despite a new state law letting some Texans carry concealed weapons on college campuses. Rice on Monday joined a growing list of private schools signaling they will opt out of the law. President David Leebron announced the decision after extensive conversations with campus groups.
After a series of school shootings, policymakers of all stripes offered a series of possible solutions. In Texas, for example, Republican state policymakers responded to the tragedies by allowing Texans with a concealed-carry license to bring loaded firearms into on-campus buildings.
The idea is based on the argument that there will be fewer shootings when there are more guns.
The state law, however, makes the policy optional for private colleges and universities, which can opt-out "after consulting with students, staff and faculty." Soon after, Baylor, Trinity, Texas Christian University, Southern Methodist University, and others said they'd given this some thought and decided to pass on the state law, which takes effect in August 2016..
Yesterday, the Houston Chronicle reported that the list is getting longer still.
In an email to the university, Rice President Leebron wrote, "Not a single constituency consulted has endorsed having guns on our campus; in fact, each overwhelming(ly) opposed it. Maintaining the safety of our students and employees is our highest priority. There is no evidence that allowing the carrying of guns on our campus will make the campus safer, and the most knowledgeable professional groups believe that guns will make campuses less safe."
Of course, since Rice is a private institution, state officials can't force the university's hands. Ryan Kearney added yesterday, "Public universities like the University of Texas aren’t so lucky: The law only allows them to enact 'reasonable rules' that cannot 'generally prohibit or have the effect of generally prohibiting license holders from carrying concealed handguns on the campus.'"
Two weeks ago, the Faculty Council of the University of Texas approved a resolution "calling for banning guns in classrooms, offices, residence halls, laboratories 'and other spaces of education' on campus." Because UT is a state school, it's unclear how far the university can go to limit students from carrying firearms in campus buildings, regardless of what its faculty, administrators, or students want.