A no-nonsense guide to Texas gun laws and how they affect our campus.
Senate Bill 11, or Campus Carry, was passed in October of 2015 by the Texas Legislature. This bill goes into effect on August 1, 2016 and allows licensed concealed handguns on public university campuses in the state of Texas. Public campuses like UNT have no choice in allowing campus carry, but they do have a say in where carrying is allowed. UNT spent a lot of time and effort ensuring their Campus Carry policy held up to the security measures we already have on campus to best keep students safe. Here’s what you need to know about Campus Carry:
Campus Carry is NOT Open Carry.
“The Campus Carry law does not allow Open Carry on campus,” said UNT Police Community Relations Ofc. Kevin Crawford. “What essentially it’s going to allow is a license to carry holder to carry a concealed handgun onto campus property. “When we talk about license to carry holders, we talk about how they are exceedingly law-abiding citizens.”
Open Carry is still illegal on college campuses. Every gun must be concealed. If you see someone openly carrying a gun, contact campus police, but do not engage with the person carrying.
A gun that’s concealed “can’t be openly noticeable” Crawford said. He wants to make sure though, that Open Carry is “not to be confused with ‘I’m tying my shoe, my gun accidentally flashed’ or people who wear tight shirts and you can kind of see a gun imprint. it’s not exactly the same thing.”
Crawford says that the gun alone isn’t cause for fear. “What did they do with the gun? Did they do something to try to intimidate somebody that they have the gun? Did they put their hand on their gun even though it was in their shirt? What is the action that they did that placed you in fear?”
Only licensed handgun owners can participate in Campus Carry.
The minimum age for a CHL is 21, unless you’re a member of active military, so many students are not old enough to participate, especially while living in campus housing.And either way, the process in place to get a LTC is rigorous.
“First, they have to go get a license to carry permit from the state of Texas, which entails also them paying money to go through a state-certified instructor class, show proficiency with the weapon to have ability to qualify, it also requires them to have a background investigation, they can’t show any kind of alcohol or drug dependencies or any mental issues in order to get that permit,” said Crawford.
In fact, Ofc. Crawford says in 2014, while LTC (license to carry) holders made up 3% of the population, they made up only .2% of total convictions that year.
“Those convictions involve theft, driving with a suspended license, stuff like that. They’re exceedingly law-abiding citizens because they have to be to get (their LTC),” Crawford said. If they don’t obey the law, they lose their license.
Campus Carry in your dorm
Campus Carry will only be allowed in private rooms on campus. Nobody with a roommate will be eligible to keep their handgun in their room.
“If you’re going to live in on-campus housing and you are a license to carry holder you’ll have to have your weapon either on your person concealed or in your gun locker safe when you’re not wearing it on your person,” said Crawford.
If your gun is in your dorm you may not intentionally display it to anyone in housing, except to take it out of storage and put it back in storage. That’s the only time anyone else can see your gun, otherwise it must be locked up or concealed.
It’s important to note though, that most students in campus housing are under the age of 21. Very few people who live in a dorm will be eligible to participate in Campus Carry.
The University Police Chief can suspend Campus Carry if there is inherent danger or a credible tip about danger to campus.
Basically, any reason that police fear there’s a particularly dangerous or life threatening instance or credible tip about such would in effect make all of campus a no-carry zone.
UNT Campus Carry policy dictates many places that guns can never be present.
We’ve put a comprehensive list below. FYI, it’s a lot of places.
- Medical or Health facilities. These include: Chestnut Hall, Terrill Hall, the Speech and Hearing Clinic, Welch Street Complex 2, and the Life of Purpose in Chilton Hall.
- Any places designated for Religious activity: Goolsby Chapel and the Union Meditation room
- Anywhere intramural or intercollegiate athletics are performed: The Physical Education Building, The Pohl Recreation Center, and Ken Bahnsen Gymnasium.
In addition guns are prohibited when large scale or athletic events are taking place at the following sports facilities: the intramural fields, Apogee Stadium, Fouts Field, the Mean Green Volleyball Complex, and the Warranch Tennis Center. At other times, Campus Carry is allowed.
- Also in places where performances, conferences, and other events take place, like: The Voertman Concert Hall and Music Building, Union Lyceum, the Ballrooms in the Gateway Center and the Union, the Coliseum, the RTVF Theater, Murchison Performing Arts Center, and the Main Auditorium in the Auditorium Building.
If you do intend to carry, or just want to know more about the legislature passed, the UNT campus carry policy makes staying informed easy. Ofc. Kevin Crawford assures that once you’re more informed, Campus Carry is a lot less frightening. “Take into consideration that the concealed carry law has been in effect since 1997,” Crawford said. “People don’t really realize that they’ve probably gone to movies, restaurants, and grocery stores with people that have concealed handguns and they weren’t in any danger because of it. The person had it in their possession and didn’t do anything with it.”
Colorado has had Campus Carry laws since 2003, and no CHL holders have discharged a firearm on campus since the law’s creation. Crawford says that UNT police is always on high alert, but Campus Carry won’t affect normal day-to-day policing. Maybe now that you know the facts, you won’t be scared of it either.
So here’s the bottom line:
- If you ever see a gun that isn’t concealed, or a suspicious person, immediately call 911, or the UNT Police at 940-565-3000 with your best judgement. Describe the situation and DO NOT engage with anyone displaying a firearm.
- If you’re going to carry on campus, make sure you meet all requirements of the University and the state of Texas. This means both in campus housing and in daily practice, gun laws must be closely followed.
- Don’t ever hesitate to ask questions of the UNT Police. They are happy to help you best understand this sensitive issue.
- Check out campuscarry.unt.edu for a super easy to understand, no-nonsense guide.
- UNT Police Chief Ed Reynolds is the official Campus Carry spokesperson. If you have any further questions, UNT asks that you contact him.
- Pass on this article to your friends and family, so everyone can be informed about this law that goes into effect August 1st, 2016.