Texas has officially entered the "campus carry" era.
Beginning Monday, students with a valid Texas Concealed Handgun License (CHL) or License to Carry (LTC) are allowed to carry their concealed firearm on public college and university campuses.
Speaking with media Monday morning, University of Texas at Austin President Greg Fenves pointed out "open carry" is still prohibited on campus. As such, he suggested visitors may have a tough time spotting any changes.
"Physically they should notice very little. We have very limited signage," Fenves told KVUE, referring to mandatory "30.06" signs indicating areas in which concealed handguns are prohibited.
"If you think you see a gun, that's enough triggering to tell you to call 9-1-1," advised Bob Harkins, Associate Vice President for Campus Safety and Security for the University of Texas. "Don't put yourself in a confrontational mode. Don't press the issue. You think you see a gun, call 9-1-1. Our officers will react and come and they can ask the questions and defuse the situation."
With regard to the law's effect on campus safety, Fenves said, "We have a very safe campus. We have historically had a safe campus, and I think that will continue."
"I don't think it's a function of being more safe or less safe," Harkins told KVUE. "I think we're a safe campus and we'll continue that posture, as the president said."
The school has set up a website with some basic information, such as which areas remain off-limits. Concealed handguns are still not allowed in areas such as child care facilities, bars, sporting events, patient care areas, high hazard laboratories and the tower observation deck during tower tours.
There are a few places where the rules get a little murky. Professors can ban guns from their office if they're the sole occupant, but they can't put up a legally enforceable sign. Instead, professors can verbally warn students of their office gun policy.
"I plan to tell people that I'm not going to allow guns in my office," Professor Andrea Gore, who chairs the school's faculty council, told reporters. The pharmacy professor admits some of her colleagues are curtailing curriculum and toning down tough discussions, but she refuses to follow suit.
"Even though I'm opposed to it, and I am definitely a little bit afraid, I also feel like I just cannot be intimidated," said Gore.
A small group of students has voiced support for the law, but did not reply to an invitation to discuss the law on Monday. The student body largely opposes the measure.
"I just can't see the logic of more guns making any place safer," said senior Mackenzie Stewart, who blames the Texas Legislature for saddling universities with the law. Private universities can opt out of campus carry, and all but one have done so.
"I understand the theory behind it, like how, theoretically, it could keep campus more safe," said senior Ziv Shalev, "But I just think it creates more issues and more danger."
"We're certainly going to monitor the effects, and we have processes set in place," Fenves told reporters. "How is it affecting recruitment of students? Are students deciding not to come to U.T. because of the law?"
Fenves admits campus carry has factored into interviews for faculty and staff positions.
"It is a question that comes up," Fenves told KVUE. "At this point, I can't say that it's had an undue affect on our ability to recruit, but again, the law hasn't been in effect through this process -- and now that the law is in effect and the policies are active, we're going to actively continue to monitor it."
The eyes of Texas will be watching.