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A&M allowing guns in classrooms and dorms; approves funds for engineering, sports facilities

The Texas A&M; University System Board of Regents chose to make no changes to its system’s campus carry policies on Wednesday, essentially granting approval for some of the more lenient campus carry rules in the state.   

That means holders of state handgun licenses will be allowed to carry concealed weapons in classrooms and dorm rooms at Texas A&M; University and other A&M; system schools this fall. (One small exception: Dorms operated by private companies will be allowed to ban guns if they want.) In addition, faculty members will only be allowed to ban guns in their offices if they can show a special reason to do so — and receive administrative approval.  

“You can’t simply say, ‘I don’t like guns, so I am going to ban them in my office,'” said A&M; System Chancellor John Sharp.  

The rules were noncontroversial among regents and didn’t generate any discussion. No attempts were made to change them. State law doesn’t require any kind of vote or approval from the regents unless they want to make a change.  

Board Chairman Cliff Thomas acknowledged that the rules were not easy to write. The issue has drawn considerable attention among students, parents and faculty. But he said the rules “strike an appropriate balance.” 

“I believe they will serve our system well going forward,” Thomas said.  

The carrying of concealed handguns by those holding a state license in buildings on university campuses across the state will be legal on Aug. 1, thanks to a law passed in 2015. The law allowed universities to create some limited gun-free zones if they want, but those rules aren’t allowed to have the cumulative effect of making it impossible to carry on campus.    

No universities appear to be trying to ban guns in classrooms. But some colleges, including the University of Texas at Austin, will restrict the weapons in certain dorms and faculty offices. 

In addition to reviewing campus carry rules, the regents approved millions of dollars in new construction projects on the A&M; campus including a $169 million engineering facility, a $28.6 million softball stadium and a $39.8 million track and field stadium. 

Disclosure: The University of Texas at Austin and Texas A&M; University have been financial supporters of The Texas Tribune. A complete list of Tribune donors and sponsors can be viewed here.  

This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune at http://www.texastribune.org/2016/04/27/its-official-guns-will-be-allowed-m-classrooms-and/.

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