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AUSTIN, TEXAS (Reuters) – A new law went into effect in Texas on Monday that allows certain students to bring guns into classrooms, with supporters saying it could prevent mass shootings and critics saying the measure will endanger safety on campuses.
The so-called state “campus carry” law allows people 21 and older with a concealed handgun license to carry pistols in classrooms and buildings throughout public colleges, including the University of Texas system, one of the nation’s largest with an enrollment of more than 214,000 students.
The law took effect on the 50th anniversary of one of the deadliest US gun incidents on a college campus, when a student named Charles Whitman killed 16 people by firing from a perch atop the clock tower at the University of Texas at Austin, the state’s flagship public university. Texas Governor Greg Abbott, a Republican who supports campus carry, said a gunman could already bring a firearm on to campus, and the law could prevent mass shootings because someone with a licensed concealed weapon could be ready to confront a gunman.