The American state of Texas joined eight other states this week in giving individuals a right to bring guns to college classrooms. The Texas law gives people 21 and older permission to carry concealed handguns into buildings at state-financed colleges. To do so, the person needs a government permit that requires training in safe gun use. The law took effect on the same day the University of Texas marked the 50thanniversary of the first mass shooting at an American college campus.
On August 1, 1966, Charles Whitman used a gun to shoot at people from high atop the university’s clock tower. Seventeen people lost their lives, and many more were injured.
One of the first people shot and injured was Claire Wilson. She was pregnant and lost her baby. The gunman killed her boyfriend, Tom Eckman, in the attack.
Today, Wilson uses the name Claire Wilson James. She spoke on Monday at a memorial ceremony, offering this lesson from her personal tragedy: “Treasure the ones we walk with each moment.”
Supporters of the new Texas law say it will save lives by giving people the right to use their own guns to stop a shooter before police arrive. Texas Governor Greg Abbott said it was carefully written to require people to get special training to bring guns to colleges.
Opponents said the gun law might make things worse. It might make it difficult for police to identify the shooter or shooters from those firing weapons to stop the attack, they said.
Opponents also worry that access to guns will make it easier for people who are depressed or have a mental health issue to take their own lives.
Under the new law, people are permitted to carry guns into college buildings, classrooms and student housing. Guns are not permitted at sporting events.
Each state college can establish its own rules. For example, at the University of Texas, professors can declare their offices, “gun-free zones.”
University students and employees over age 21 can have guns in common areas, such as dormitories, dining halls and lounges. But they can’t carry guns in dormitory rooms, where students sleep.
At Texas A&M University, another state school, guns are permitted in dormitory rooms. Teachers at Texas A&M need approval from school administrators before they can bar people from carrying guns into their offices.
Under the state law, private colleges can choose whether or not to permit concealed guns. So far, only one private Texas college — Amberton University — is allowing guns.