Breaking ranks with most private colleges opting out of a state law requiring public universities to allow handguns in dorms, classrooms and campus buildings, East Texas Baptist University will allow the president to authorize selected full-time faculty or staff who hold a license to carry a concealed handgun to bring it on campus.
President Blair Blackburn said previously he is personally opposed to campus carry, but after discussing it with faculty, staff and students, the administration and board of trustees determined the “opt out, authorize in” plan “provides the greatest level of safety and security to our student body and university community.”
Senate Bill 11, signed into law last summer by Gov. Greg Abbott and scheduled to take effect Aug. 1, allows individuals with a concealed handgun license to carry a handgun while on Texas public university campuses as long as the weapon is not visible.
The law allows private universities to opt out entirely if they so choose. Five Baptist General Convention of Texas-affiliated schools — Baylor University, Hardin-Simmons University, Howard Payne University, the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor and Wayland Baptist University — did, denying campus carry. Three others — Baptist University of the Américas, Dallas Baptist University and Houston Baptist University — remain undecided.
Considering the potential threat of an active shooter situation, East Texas Baptist University will allow faculty or staff to apply to the president for consideration to conceal carry on the university campus.
Applicants must undergo a psychiatric evaluation, regularly update qualification showing firearms proficiency and safety, and participate annually in university-sponsored active shooter training by law enforcement. The president holds “a specific right to withdraw authorization with or without cause at any time and for any reason.”
Dennis Robertson, chair of the faculty senate, described the policy as “deliberate and well thought out from my perspective.”
“The administration did not rush to judgment on this, but through much deliberation over the course of the year, conferring with faculty and staff along the way, they came to a reasonable accommodation,” Robertson said in a university press release.