By Zachary-Taylor Wright
The board of trustees questioned the timeline for approving a licensed concealed campus carry policy during the chancellor’s report at the board meeting March 21 at Killen Center.
District general counsel Ross Laughead presented a first draft of potential policy recommendations to the board and suggested the board adopt a policy at the April 18 board meeting.
District 5 trustee Roberto Zarate expressed concern with the timeline, saying an April vote from the board is too rushed.
Zarate suggested the board push the vote until the May 16 board meeting to allow the discussion of potential policy at two committee meetings and two board meetings.
District 6 trustee Gene Sprague charged Laughead and the board with compiling a detailed policy recommendation so the board can make an informed decision.
Chancellor Bruce Leslie said he plans to work with general counsel and the board to establish a policy in time, but the board can postpone a decision until the May 16 board meeting if they need to.
This is the first recommendation for policy the board has seen.
Laughead reminded the board that it takes considerable time to implement new policy across the colleges and said this was the time for the board to identify any concerns they have with proposed policy before bringing recommendations back to the April 11 committee meetings.
According to the presentation, concealed campus carry will be effective Aug. 1 in the Alamo Colleges District and the board must present a policy and reasoning to state legislators by Sept. 1.
The campus carry committee, including student government, faculty, district staff, administrators and police, was formed to review and discuss concealed campus carry in the district and suggest policy additions.
Laughead said barring concealed carry in athletic facilities was feasible because students cannot control their weapon if it is not on their person or within reach.
Texas legislation requires licensed concealed carriers to have access to and control of the weapon at all times.
Laughead said extending the restriction to spectators at sporting events is “less justified by statute” but recommended by the committee.
Laughead said the committee supported barring concealed carry at Scobee Education Center because the planetarium is heavily marketed toward minors.
The committee supported barring concealed campus carry in special testing areas because they didn’t support installing gun lockers around the colleges, Laughead said.
Students in special testing areas would be required to remove weapons from their person prior to taking the test.
Laughead said he spoke to the police department, and they said the installation of gun lockers increases the risk of accidental discharge.
Having concealed carriers constantly handle their weapon increases the chance of accidental discharge, Laughead said.
Laughead said the committee and general counsel support a broad definition of hazardous laboratories, where the committee wanted to bar concealed campus carry.
According to Laughead’s presentation, many chemicals can be considered dangerous in the presence of a weapon by presenting a “small risk of ignition from firearm discharge.”
The presentation used automobile fuel, lubricants and battery acid as examples of materials that are hazardous in the presence of a firearm.
Laughead proposed the board bar concealed campus carry where minors congregate, saying board policy can only bar concealed campus carry in specific classrooms and at specific times when minors will be present.
Laughead said the board must weigh the safety concerns against the penalty for inaccurate signage and enforcement confusion.
According to the presentation, the district may be charged a civil penalty of $10,000 a day for signage that bars licensed concealed campus carry where it is not prohibited by state legislation under Texas Statute 411.209.
Laughead said he discussed the implementation of signage with the purchasing department, which said the district could purchase signage within the current budget plan.
The presentation states that policy should accommodate “clearly accidental display.”
Zarate questioned what this statement implied and questioned the vague nature of the statement.
Laughead provided an example: If a gun is in a holster and concealed by a buttoned jacket, a concealed carrier should not have charges pressed against them if a button comes undone and exposes the holster.
District 2 trustee Denver McClendon asked if the current legislative session could impact how the board constructs the new concealed campus carry policy.
Board Chair Yvonne Katz, District 7 trustee, said she has not seen any proposed legislation that would impact or impede the construction of policy.
Laughead proposed a plan for communicating the board’s concealed campus carry policy to students, faculty and the public, saying course syllabuses and the college websites were the best places to inform students, faculty and the public about the policy.
Leslie proposed creating an implementation committee to discuss the logistics of implementing the new policy.
State allows barring at:
Child care facilities
District wants barring at:
Scobee Education Center
Special testing areas
Labs and training facilities with hazardous material