AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — When the Texas Legislature passed a law requiring public universities to allow concealed guns on campus, it also gave the state's private institutions of higher learning the chance to follow suit. None has so far.
More than 20 private schools have said they won't lift their gun bans when the law takes effect in August, including the state's largest private universities that have religious affiliations and often align with the type of conservative values of the politicians behind the law.
The opposition has not surprised top Texas Republicans who championed the law as a matter of constitutional rights and self-defense.
But it reflects a widespread belief even among conservative university leaders that guns have no place in classrooms.
Baylor, Texas Christian and Southern Methodist Universities have all declined to allow guns on their campuses.
"My own view is that it is a very unwise public policy," Baylor President Ken Starr said late last year. The Baptist school announced this month that guns would not be allowed on campus.
Previous law generally banned concealed handguns from Texas' public and private universities. That changed last year, when lawmakers passed the so-called "campus carry" law that requires public universities to allow concealed handgun license holders to bring their weapons into campus buildings and classrooms.
Texas will be one of at least 20 states that allow some form of campus carry. The law faced strong objections from public higher education officials, law enforcement, students and faculty across the state. A notable exception was Texas A&M University System Chancellor John Sharp, who said guns on campus didn't trouble him.
When public schools asked for the same choice private schools have, state lawmakers said no.
The author of the law, Sen. Brian Birdwell, whose district includes Baylor, said he had to protect the public's "God-given" right of self-defense on public property, but also private property rights.