Last year, Texas passed a bill requiring public colleges and universities to allow people to carry concealed handguns anywhere on campuses. Schools have until Aug. 1 of this year to implement new concealed carry policies in response, although they cannot put in place rules that have the effect of generally prohibiting concealed carry.. Texas prohibits carrying handguns openly on college and university campuses.

Earlier this month, the University of Texas, Austin, released its concealed carry rules. Of particular interest to the Safety Zone:

The concealed carry of handguns should be prohibited in areas where the discharge of a firearm might cause great harm, such as laboratories with extremely dangerous chemicals, biologic agents, or explosive agents, and areas with equipment that is incompatible with metallic objects, such as magnetic resonance imaging machines.

Finding: Handgun license holders are generally not trained on the safe use of weapons in areas where an accidental or intentional discharge might cause great harm such as laboratories with hazardous chemicals, gases, or biological agents. Such a discharge of a weapon could have grave and catastrophic consequences. Moreover, handguns are inappropriate in the vicinity of some types of equipment, such as equipment containing powerful magnets. This policy is reasonable and addresses specific safety considerations necessary to ensure safety in these unique environments. This policy does not have the effect of generally prohibiting license holders from carrying concealed handguns on campus. The adoption of this policy is within the authority granted to university presidents.

Implementation Strategy and Criteria: There are many locations and activities on campus that require these specific safety considerations. The campus will identify and prohibit the carrying of concealed handguns from these areas. The campus will provide the required notice along with information in appropriate materials and websites.

UT Austin chemistry department chair Devarajan Thirumalai says that "a working group comprised of faculty, staff, and students is currently working on an implementation plan."

Texas A&M University also has a committee evaluating its policies. Texas Tech University's Board of Regents was supposed to review that school's proposed policy last week. A New York Times story notes that Rice, Baylor, and Southern Methodist universities are all keeping their campus-wide prohibitions of concealed carry.