New Texas gun laws allow open carry on campus

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“New Texas gun laws allow open carry on campus” should read concealed carry.

Law for community colleges takes effect fall 2017.

By Melissa Luna

mluna132@student.alamo.edu

Chancellor Bruce Leslie announced he is preparing to form “a task force” to assist the district in maintaining gun control on campus.

His remarks came at the student dialogue and listening forum Sept. 16. at this college.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed House Bill 910 on June 13, which allows Texas residents with concealed handgun licenses to openly carry handguns in hip or shoulder holsters.

Later that day, Abbott also signed State Bill 11, a campus-carry law that states “public institutions of higher education may not circumvent the intent of the act by imposing administrative bans and sanctions on CHLs (concealed handgun licensees) on their campuses.”

The new campus-carry law will affect Alamo Colleges campuses beginning August 2017.

Universities must comply beginning in fall 2016.

“The board has taken positive action to express their opposition to it,” Leslie said. “Most of us senior leaders in higher education are opposed to the legislation.”

In May 2013, trustees passed a resolution prohibiting concealed carry in the district.

On June 14, 2013, Texas Gov. Rick Perry signed State Bill 1907, which states that an institution of higher education may not adopt or enforce any regulation or prohibit the storage or transportation of a firearm or ammunition in a locked motor vehicle by a student who holds a license to carry.

The law went into effect Sept. 1, 2013, and allowed students to lawfully possess a firearm or ammunition on a street or driveway located on the campus of an institution or in a parking lot, parking garage, or other parking area on the campus of an institution.

District general counsel Ross Laughead will chair the 23-member task force.

Each college will have a minimum of three representatives, including a student government representative and faculty representative.

Trustees’ biggest concern with open carry on campus is the presence of unique student populations, which include young children and high school students, Laughead said in a Sept. 21 phone interview.

“Gun-carry people won in Austin,” Laughead said. “We still need to comply with the law, which means talking about gun lockers and stuff like that.”

State Bill 11 will allow higher education institutions to establish rules or regulations prohibiting the carrying of weapons on parts of campuses, after consulting with students, faculty and staff.

Institutions must take into account the nature of the student population, any safety considerations and the uniqueness of the campus environment.

“I want to get your voice so that we can try to fine tune — to the extent we can — to try to ensure the greatest safety for our family as possible,” Leslie told students.

Currently, students with concealed handgun licenses can leave handguns in their vehicles, preferably out of sight.

Concealed handgun licensees must still abide by Texas Penal Code 46 regarding places where carrying of a handgun by license holders is unlawful.

Examples are amusement parks, an established place of religious worship and businesses that derive 51 percent or more of income from the sale or service of alcoholic beverages.

It also includes businesses with properly posted signs prohibiting it.

State Rep. Larry Phillips, R-Sherman, is the author of House Bill 910, and state Sen. Brian Birdwell, R-Granbury, is the author of State Bill 11.

House Bill 910 will take effect Jan. 1, which will make Texas the 45th state to allow open carry in public.

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