By Grayson Kirkham
According to Ammo Land – Shooting Sports News, Students for Concealed Carry commends both Texas State University and University of Texas at Tyler for adopting clear policies and limited gun-free zones without undermining the new state campus carry law or taking away rights from concealed handgun license holders.
Texas Senate Bill 11 will be put into effect on August 1 of this year.The bill deals with the legal carry of concealed handguns on college campuses, including Texas State.
The lawful concealment of a handgun on campus will only apply to those licensed to do so. Despite the ongoing debate over the allowment of the campus carry law, licensed holders have been allowed to carry concealed handguns on campus since 1995, just not inside campus buildings. That will change in August.
While concealed carry will become legal at Texas State next fall, open display of a handgun will still be illegal. There will also be restrictions to buildings a concealed gun can be brought into such as healthcare buildings, childcare facilities and near the president’s house.
Dr. Vicki Brittain, Special Assistant to President Denise Trauth, says a 25-member Campus Carry Task Force was created by Trauth in August of last year to discuss strategies and methods of implementing SB 11 on campus. The task force is comprised of staff, faculty, and students, where Brittain works as Chair of the Campus Carry Task Force.
“Under Senate Bill 11 that was passed on June 2015, the law required that the president consult with faculty staff and students and to consider three factors: the nature of the student population, safety concerns, and unique campus environment,” Brittain said.
Brittain said the task force is divided into eight different subgroups, in order to increase group efficiency. Each subgroup does their own survey and focus group work with various different stakeholders in whichever area they were assigned to.
She says the group spent a lot of time doing data collection where they gathered inventory and data about the demographics of the Texas State student population. One of the things they looked at were classrooms sizes.
“What we determined demographically was most of those large classrooms are populated by students that are less than 21-years-old,” Brittain said. “So, you’re probably not going to have as many guns in those classrooms as you would in a classroom that has a higher average age.”
She said after the consultation process, the president can establish reasonable rules and regulations. After the passing of SB 11, Trauth created an open link survey on the university website so anyone can post comments and suggestions about the implementation of the law and charged the new task force with soliciting comments and thoughts about how to do so.
“We’ve really taken a real comprehensive view of this because we want make sure that when we implement Campus Carry on a Texas State University Campus that we’re going to be able to do so in a manner that is going to continue to allow the university to foster an educational environment that’s safe, secure, open, tolerant, and still rich with vibrant discussion, debate, academic freedom and discourse,” Brittain said.
The final proposed rules were presented to President Trauth on February 23. According to Brittain, the rules will be presented to The Texas State University System Board of Regents on May 26 and 27. While Brittain hopes the rules will be approved, the Board has the right to amend those rules by a two-thirds vote.