Starting Monday August 1st 2016, a new law pushed by Governor Greg Abbot and the Republican legislative majority in Texas takes affect that allows concealed-carry permit holders to bring their handguns onto college campuses. This means that responsibly armed, legally licensed college students and family members can now carry in public university buildings, classrooms, and dorms. However, as with most firearms and CCW laws there are some very specific rules and restrictions. We’re here to fill you in on how the new law works, as well as cover some of the history and controversy it is creating. Here’s the Rundown:
- It’s only for licensed Permit Holders. This means you have to be 21 and have completed the training course, passed the background check, and be in possession of your permit issued by the state at the time you are carrying. For more information on how to receive a Texas Conceal Carry Permit or LTC, checkout our training schedule at http://www.texasfirearmclass.com/
- It only applies to public universities. Private schools can still choose to ban guns under state law. At the moment all private universities in the state, with one exception, have elected to keep their campuses gun-free. The notable, but small exception is Amberton University, which has less than 2,000 students and doesn’t enroll anyone under age 21 has chosen to allow campus CCW. Also, Community colleges have until August 2017 to adjust their policies and security to allow weapons on their campuses.
- Open Carry is not allowed. In spite of recent passing of Texas laws that allow permit holders to open carry handguns in public as of January 2016. The new law specifically makes college campuses an exception so openly displaying firearms in classrooms is not an option. This means having a good concealed carry holster, that won’t print or reveal you are carrying, is a must. For our list of good options check out our reviews here: http://www.usafirearmtraining.com/gear/top-concealed-carry-holsters-reviewed/ and our top pick, the incredibly popular Brave Response Holster click here: http://www.usafirearmtraining.com/product/brave-response-holster/
- Rules vary from school-to-school. Schools can determine off-limit areas. As a general rule, the law states that it allows guns in buildings, classrooms and dormitories, but it does give some limited discretion to school officials to determine where permit holders are allowed to have guns. School officials are required to map out where restricted areas are, and post signs to notify permit holders. State law also still prohibits weapons from campus hospitals and sporting events.
- August 1st is significant because the bill comes into effect on the anniversary of the Charles Whitman’s shooting rampage at the University of Texas, where an armed sniper shot and killed 17 people from the university’s famous clock tower. It has come to be accepted as the nations first mass shooting. Those in support of the changes feel its a step in the right direction toward preventing further violence. Opponents of the bill, expressed concerns about the changes chilling free speech or increasing campus suicide.
- Speaking of Controversy, students and teachers at the University of Texas at Austin vigorously protested the law. That school is now taking advantage of the discretion granted by the law to create stronger restrictions on where students can carry than other colleges. For example, dorm residents can have guns in dining areas and lounges, but not in sleeping quarters, where storage of weapons is banned. The exception to this is visiting family members who are licensed. This same university will allow teachers declare their offices as gun-free zones, though it’s reported that most will post signs. This is much stricter than at other colleges like Texas A&M where students are allowed to keep firearms in their dorm rooms and teachers must get the school administration’s permission to declare their offices a gun-free zone.
So there you have it, the new laws in a nutshell! Keep in mind this is not legal counsel, and if you have specific questions about the new laws, contact a competent attorney. If you’re going to carry on campus, do it responsibly and know your school’s rules and restricted areas. Stay safe out there!