On Monday, Campus Carry becomes a reality for Texas. As students get ready for back to school, universities are getting ready for guns.
Texas Senate Bill 11 goes into effect for higher education institutions, allowing students, staff and visitors to carry concealed weapons on campus.
Private institutions were allowed to opt out, and most already have. Other institutions are formalizing their specific Campus Carry policies in anticipation of the arrival of students for the Fall semester.
"It makes me feel uncomfortable that they can carry handguns on campus," said one University of Houston student to FOX26.
Another echoed the sentiment, saying it "definitely makes me feel more scared and concerned for my safety."
Concern for safety is exactly why universities across the state are perfecting their Campus Carry Policies. But, what will the policies look like?
The University of Houston posted their policy at the start of July. It is easily available for review online, here. In their policy, they outline several key points including:
- students, staff and faculty must have a valid license to carry
- the weapons must be concealed; only security and law enforcement may have visible handguns
- any intentional revealing of a handgun could be grounds for discipline or expulsion
- the handgun must be holstered with the trigger covered, or stored in a campus safety area or a gun safe
- you may NOT carry while intoxicated
- any discharge of a handgun, intentional or otherwise, will result in discipline
The policy also states the University will collect annual data on handgun related incidents.
There will also be exclusion zones, where concealed carry will not be permitted. Those zones require legislative approval.
"[Legislators] have formed a committee," explains lawyer Michele Byington, "and that committee is going to require the president of every university to submit a list of [exclusion] zones and the rationale for why."
For the University of Houston, those areas include day care and health care facilities, areas used for sports, religious worship, polling, laboratories. Majority of campus housing is excluded from carry, as are places where disciplinary hearings occur and near critical infrastructure. Other areas included will be those that pose significant risk, or could result in substantial harm, if a weapon discharged unintentionally.
Look for 30.06 signs clarifying that an area is excluded. If you are unclear whether your concealed weapon is permitted, ask a security staff member.
Most universities we reviewed were collaborating with students and staff to determine where exclusion zones will go.
There is no constitutional carry in Texas, meaning a law enforcement officer may ask you to present your license at any time. Yes, being asked to show your license is considered temporary detainment. If you show proper licensing, and that was all the officer needed, you are free to go. You are not required to show your license to other citizens.
At University of Houston, staff is explicitly not allowed to ask students to present their license.
In 2015, Texas Department of Public Safety reporter 7% of state gun applications issued were to college-age individuals ages 18-25, but this law goes beyond students to all staff and visitors on the campus.
For more details on your school's campus carry policy, search their website or contact campus security.