Eastfield students won’t be bringing handguns to campus this year, but students at four-year Texas universities who are 21 years or older and have licenses to carry can now bring concealed handguns to public universities.
Open carry of handguns is allowed in Texas, but it does not apply to school campuses of any kind.
The campus carry law was passed in June 2015 and went into effect Aug. 1, 2016, the 50th anniversary of the tower shooting at the University of Texas in Austin. The law was passed by the Texas Legislature despite heavy pushback from Democratic lawmakers.
Here are a few details you should know about campus carry:
-It is illegal to carry firearms on two-year college campuses such as Eastfield until August 2017. Firearms may be kept in cars on campus.
-Campus carry is not the same as open carry, where concealed handgun license holders may openly carry handguns in shoulder or belt holsters. Guns on college campuses must be concealed.
– Private organizations may prohibit open and concealed carry on their property.
-All private colleges, except Amberton University in Garland, opted out of the law. East Texas Baptist University and Southwestern Assemblies of God University will allow qualified faculty and staff to carry concealed handguns.
-Dallas County Community College District trustees may set some gun-free areas on campus. The Student Government Association held forums last year seeking suggestions, which included N building, where the early college high school offices are located, and the Pit in C building. The K building would remain gun-free under the law because it houses a childcare center. Policies must be in place by Aug. 1, 2017.
-Public universities are allowed to set gun-free zones on campus as long as they are “reasonable” and do not hinder the purpose of the law. Schools adopted a wide variety of policies.
-For instance, University of Texas professors may ban guns from their offices, but Texas A&M University professors may not. Some schools banned guns in dorms, but others allow them.
-The fine for public colleges violating campus carry law is $10,500 thousand per day of violation.
-Three professors at the University of Texas have filed a lawsuit against the state to have the law repealed. The suit claims the law is experimental and puts anyone on campus at risk. Supporters of the law say these concerns are unwarranted, as the law has already been enacted in other states. A judge refused to put the law on hold while the lawsuit proceeds.
-Students protested campus carry at the University of Texas on Aug. 24 by handing out free sex toys and carrying signs reading “Wangs not bangs” and “Guns boned our education.” The event was organized by the protest group Cocks not Glocks.
-In 2004, Utah was the first state to allow handguns on college campuses. Since then, Arkansas, Idaho, Mississippi, Kansas, Wisconsin, Colorado and Oregon passed similar laws.
-Last year, California became the latest of 21 states to enact gun bans on college campuses.
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— Compiled by James Hartley