Lamar Gets Grip On Campus Carry Law

6th Sep 2016

Lloyd Arnold, an adviser at Lamar University's Small Business Development Center, said he feels safer now that he can carry his gun on campus.

Arnold, who said he has been a concealed carry instructor for six years and has had a permit for 21 years, said he wasn't the only one in his department who felt that way. He said when he informed his co-workers of his decision, two women said they also felt safer.

"If you carry on campus, you're part of the solution, not the problem," Arnold said.

Last week, 15,000 Lamar University students shuffled back to fall classes with one big change: anyone with a concealed carry permit is now allowed to bring a gun to campus.

On Aug. 1, Texas Senate Bill 11 took effect, allowing those with a permit to carry a concealed firearm on public college campuses anywhere except in designated "gun-free" zones. Since then, the Lamar University Police Department said its officers have tried to inform the campus community and assess the challenges that come with the policy.

On Friday, Lamar police hosted an information session at the Richard L. Price auditorium for the public to outline the university's campus carry policy, approved by the Texas State University System Board of Regents in May.

"I just want to put the information out to people and give them a chance to ask individual questions because it's the law now," said Cpl. Jarrod Samford.

Samford, Police Chief Hector Flores and Officer Jeremiah Gunter outlined the new rules for about 40 people who attended

Most questions were about where a person can and cannot bring a gun.

Prohibited places on campus include sporting events, government meetings, mental health counseling facilities, disciplinary hearing offices, Lamar University police department offices and a dorm for a residential honors program for high school students. Licensed carriers are allowed to brings guns into any other dorm, most classrooms and faculty offices.

Samford said the department has no way of knowing how many people will be carrying guns on campus, but he thinks most will be faculty, staff or graduate students, as well as some upperclassmen.

The legal age to obtain a concealed carry permit is 21, unless the person is on active duty with the military. That eliminates the majority of the Lamar campus because most are underage undergraduates.

One woman asked if she could leave her gun locked in her office when she needed to enter a gun-free zone.

Another man asked if he could designate his academic office as a gun-free zone.

The answer to both was no.

Officers told the woman she could lock her gun in her car. The other answer is definite - only police, the university president and Board of Regents can designate gun-free zones.

Cassie Jenkins, a 19-year-old journalism major from Cleveland, asked if officers would patrol gun-free zones.

Samford said they wouldn't, but an officer would always be nearby in case of an emergency.

"We have more officers on campus than a small city," he said.

But even though gun-free zones must have posted signs - in English and Spanish - enforcing the zones will be practically impossible for law enforcement, who are not allowed to ask if someone is carrying.

"The way the law is written, you won't know until something happens," Gunter said.

Officers encouraged people to report anyone to police they think are breaking the policy by open-carrying or bringing a gun to a gun-free zone, even if it's accidental.

"If someone is concealed carrying, you shouldn't know," Samford said.

Erin Tabor, associate director of the Disability Resource Center, said she feels safe on campus and wouldn't bring her handgun to work, but supports the new policy.

"I think it's good that there's something in writing," she said.

Jenkins, the journalism major, said she was covering the meeting for a news-gathering class.

She said she's "not very big on guns" and the policy caused her some discomfort. After interviewing students and teachers, Jenkins said the rules raised her comfort level.

Regardless, the idea of someone in her dorm with a gun is a source of unease.

"What I don't know doesn't hurt me," she said.

Samford said police will have another session next Friday and will schedule more sessions if there is further demand.

Original Article Found Here

NKrebs@BeaumontEnterprise.com Twitter.com/natalie_krebs

Join Our Newsletter and Receive 10% OFF Your First Order!

Discount not applicable on new products.