AUSTIN -- Texas’ Attorney General Ken Paxton has clarified the right of students at junior and community colleges to carry handguns on campus.
The decision was part of the Senate Bill 11, which takes effect August 2017.
According to a news release from the attorney general's office, “a junior or community college may not categorically prohibit concealed handguns from the locations you identify due to the presence of minors.”
The document adds that presidents or CEOs of the colleges can create campus rules or regulations, “provided that such rules regulations or provisions do not generally prohibit or have the effect of generally prohibiting license holders from carrying concealed handguns on the campus of the institution.”
Houston Community College vice chancellor Kimberly Beatty, the head of the campus carry committee, said the school was committed to safety on campus.
“Given the recent legislation, HCC has established a campus carry committee responsible for drafting a policy for implementation of the law,” Beatty told the South Southeast Texas Record in an emailed statement. “HCC stands ready to provide training and other resources to support the policy and procedures that emerge from the committee.”
Beatty also indicated the committee has followed, reviewed and discussed the topic and law over the past year.
The school’s campus carry website clarifies the differences between the Open Carry legislation, which came into effect at the start of 2016, and the campus carry legislation. The major difference is that any handgun brought onto campus must be concealed whereas the open carry law permits licensed handgun owners to carry their handgun openly, except on to college campus or buildings, in an public or private driveway, street, sidewalk or walkway, parking lot, parking garage or other parking area of the college.
Another Texas college, San Jacinto College, said they have formed a task force to tackle the issue.
“That task force is working through the process and will make a recommendation to the board of trustees as to what areas of the College are recommended to be gun free zones,” vice president of marketing and public relations Amanda Fenwick said in an email. “We are aware of the attorney general’s opinion and feel that there is nothing that is inconsistent with our current understanding of the intent of the campus carry law and how it should be implemented.”
As it stands, guns are not permitted on the San Jacinto College campus but licensed individuals have been allowed to store or transport a firearm or ammunition in a private vehicle on campus.
Earlier this year three professors filed a lawsuit in hopes of blocking the campus carry law. They said the law violated First, Second and 14th Amendments and requested an injunction. However, Paxton filed a motion that would dismiss the lawsuit about a month after it was filed by the University of Texas professors.
U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel denied the professors’ request for an injunction in August, ruling there was no solid evidence they would be successful with their pending lawsuit.