SAN ANTONIO – By next school year, anyone with a concealed handgun license will be able to carry a gun on college campuses.
Campus carry is such an important issue across Texas, Fox San Antonio is hosting a town hall Wednesday to help get the conversation started. (Click here to find out how to participate.)
The law goes into effect August 1, 2016. Private universities are allowed to opt-out. Administrators of public universities are allowed to ban weapons in certain places but must comply with the law. Students do have to be age 21 or older to obtain a concealed handgun license in Texas.
Each college now has one year to decide where guns can be carried and where they can’t.
“If people want to do bad things, they’re still going to do it whether or not it’s legal,” student Haley Starr says.
“They’re still going to do it, but you’re not going to know…” her classmate Michelle Carney responds.
“We’re not going to know who it is?” Starr asks.
“We’re not going to know who the good person is, and the bad person,” Carney says.
With the debate still raging on campuses, administrators must consult with students and faculty and develop clear policies.
The University of Texas System, which includes UTSA, designated a point person for the job.
“I’m an engineer, so I sort of reverse engineer this and work backwards from the requirement,” UT System’s deputy chancellor Dr. David Daniel says.
He says the UT System’s nine universities have until winter break to submit recommendations.
“Each campus policy, we can expect to be different,” Dr. Daniel says. “However, there may be some common requirements.”
For example, UT’s campuses could all agree to ban weapons from certain places like child care facilities, science labs, hospitals or dorms. But the way weapons are stored in gun-free zones might vary from campus to campus.
“We don’t yet know what the best way to go about that might be,” Dr. Daniel says. “Whether it would be better to have active storage, where one turns one’s concealed weapon over, let’s say, to a police officer at police headquarters. Or, quote, passive storage – where one would simply place, in a locker, a weapon.”
The questions are complicated, and the UT System is still searching for answers as administrators keep student safety top of mind.
Fox San Antonio also asked all of our local colleges how they plan to implement the new law.
Texas A&M System (includes San Antonio campus):
“As the Texas A&M University System works on a plan to implement the Campus Carry statute passed by the 84th Texas Legislature, our goal will be to implement the bill in a manner consistent with the Legislature’s intent and that enhances the safety and well-being of everyone on our campuses. The bill asks us to consult with students, staff and faculty during the implementation process, and we will make sure those voices are heard. We will have the necessary rules and policies in place by the time the legislation goes into effect on August 1, 2016.”
“The Alamo Colleges, as a community college system, is required to implement the Campus Carry law by August 1, 2017, one year after 4-year colleges and universities must do so. The legislation requires the Chancellor to adopt reasonable rules for implementation to be effective August 1, 2017, after consultation with students, faculty and staff regarding specific safety considerations, the nature of the student body and the uniqueness of the campus environment, which may not generally prohibit concealed handgun license holders from carrying concealed handguns on campus. The Chancellor has directed the establishment of an appropriate committee to perform the required consultation. After committee action, the Chancellor will propose rules to the Board of Trustees for their consideration. The legislation requires Alamo Colleges’ Board of Trustees review within 90 days after the rules are adopted and requires a 2/3 vote to modify the rules.”
Our Lady of the Lake University:
“Per Senate Bill 11, Our Lady of the Lake University (OLLU) will be consulting with students, faculty and staff on this topic during the upcoming academic year. The results from that consultation will be presented to the OLLU Board of Trustees to make decisions on how the university will proceed in time for implementation in August 2016.”
St. Mary’s University:
“Senate Bill 11, also known as Campus Carry, has been signed into law and will become effective Aug. 1, 2016. The new legislation authorizes a concealed handgun license holder to carry a concealed handgun while on the campus of a public or private institution of higher education in Texas. St. Mary’s, along with other private institutions in Texas, is authorized to prohibit license holders from carrying handguns on the campus by utilizing the statutory right to opt out. The process for opting out requires consultation with faculty, staff and students. By the end of October, President Thomas Mengler will complete consultations with various groups of the campus community, and the University will then make a decision. The University’s current weapons policy does not allow handguns on campus. The policy is consistent with current law, which states that a concealed handgun license holder is authorized to possess a firearm in a locked, privately owned motor vehicle in a University parking area. The current policy will remain in effect on Aug. 1, 2016, if, after the consultation process, the University utilizes the opt-out discretion.”
“Since the final version of SB 11 gives private colleges and universities the right to enact rules and regulations that prohibit licensed individuals from carrying weapons onto campus, Trinity University will maintain its policy that prohibits the carrying, possession, or use of any type of weapon on our campus. Trinity University’s policy prohibiting the carrying, possession, or use of any type of weapon or firearm on the campus was endorsed by members of the Board of Trustees, faculty, staff, and students in February of 2013. Signs are posted at various locations around campus to inform everyone of the University’s prohibition on weapons.”
University of the Incarnate Word:
“The University of the Incarnate Word plans to follow the statute which allows private universities to consult with university students, faculty and staff with the recommendation that we opt out of campus carry.”