University of Texas System Chancellor William McRaven circulated a letter to state lawmakers this week warning that a pending bill to allow guns into college classrooms and dorms would lead to tuition increases and difficulties in recruiting faculty.
In the letter, first reported by the Houston Chronicle, McRaven wrote that faculty may "be discouraged from relocating from other states," thereby making UT schools less competitive.
"In addressing these costs, our campuses will either need increased revenue or be compelled to reduce or discontinue other services or activities," he added.
The bill, known as "campus carry," passed the Texas state Senate two months ago, and the state House of Representatives was scheduled to debate the legislation Tuesday. In advance of that debate, McRaven's letter, first written last month, was sent to House members on Monday, the Chronicle notes.
Texas law already allows people with a license to carry a handgun on public college campuses. The current bill would extend that to allow firearms onto more parts of campus, including "most university buildings, such as dorms, classrooms and cafeterias," according to The Dallas Morning News. Allowing guns on campus has long proven immensely unpopular in the higher education world, including in relatively conservative states.
A fiscal analysis by the University of Texas at Austin estimates that the legislation would cost the UT system $39 million in measures such as installing gun safes and lockers, hiring more administrators and providing training for employees and campus security, according to The Daily Texan, UT Austin's campus newspaper.
McRaven, a former Navy admiral known for leading the raid that resulted in the killing of Osama bin Laden, retired from his post as ninth commander of the U.S. Special Operations Command in 2014, to take on the role as UT chancellor. He has consistently opposed the legislation during his time in office, and said earlier this year that law enforcement and mental health professionals have warned him of the negative consequences of allowing guns on campus.
State Sen. Brian Birdwell (R-Granbury) has previously said that he sponsored the bill because students "expressed concerns to me about their ability to protect themselves." Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) has said he supports the campus carry legislation.