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UT Chancellor Warns Against Guns on Campus

In a letter sent last week to Texas Governor Rick Perry, University of Texas System Chancellor Francisco Cigarroa noted that law enforcement officials, mental health professionals, teachers, students and parents have all said a proposal to permit the carrying of concealed handguns on Texas college campuses will make schools less safe.

"The Legislature is poised to pass a measure that would allow those with a concealed handgun license to carry on institutions of higher education," writes The Dallas Morning News' Erin Mulvaney. "To obtain a license, a holder must be 21 years old, pass a 10-hour course and pass a background check. The Senate passed the same bill in 2009 and more than half the House have co-authored the measure. Perry, a concealed carry holder, also supports the idea."

"Supporters of the legislation argue that allowing concealed handguns on campus would create a safer environment, because carriers would be able to act in self-defense immediately and not have to wait for the police to arrive," writes The Austin American-Statesman's Ben Wermund. "But Cigarroa said campus mental health professionals fear guns on campus would lead to an increase in suicides--the second leading cause of death among college students. Campus police are worried about distinguishing between 'the bad actor' and people defending themselves when both have drawn guns. And with combustible materials present in science labs and hospitals across campuses, some have expressed concern that firing a gun in certain places 'may have consequences well beyond what one may expect in other environments,' the letter said."

"It's also the nightly activities of college students that concern faculty," writes ABC News' Claire Carroll. "On college campuses, where alcohol is frequently synonymous with student life, guns might be accessible to students under the influence. UT President William Powers expressed concern that the mix of guns and campus parties may prove to be a lethal cocktail. 'There was a similar bill in the last legislature session,' said Powers. 'I was not in favor of more guns on campus then, and I'm not in favor of more guns on campus now.'"