In June, Gov. Greg Abbott signed Senate Bill 11 (SB11), often referred to as the “Campus Carry” bill. This bill amends current law by authorizing holders of concealed handgun licenses (CHLs) to carry concealed handguns in the buildings of institutions of higher education. The law takes effect Aug. 1, 2016.
Key provisions of the law include the following.
- The law allows only holders of CHLs licenses to carry concealed handguns. Long guns (e.g., rifles and shotguns) are not permitted and it is illegal for anyone to openly carry any type of firearm in university buildings. Holders of CHLs must be at least 21 years old and complete an approved training course.
- University presidents may adopt rules that address the carrying of concealed handguns on their campuses, but the law requires that they consult with students, faculty and staff prior to developing rules.
- Rules developed by a president may specify certain campus locations as exclusion zones where concealed handguns are not allowed. However, the law states that exclusion zones may not “generally prohibit or have the effect of generally prohibiting” campus carry by CHL holders.
- Final rules for implementation must be widely publicized and appropriate signage posted.
The full text of the bill may be found at http://www.capitol.state.tx.us/tlodocs/84R/billtext/html/SB00011F.htm.
UT System Actions
The University of Texas System Chancellor William McRaven has asked all campuses in the UT System to develop working groups to solicit input from students, faculty, staff and other constituents and assist presidents to develop rules for their campuses.
The chancellor has also formed a UT System working group led by David E. Daniel, Ph.D., deputy chancellor. UTHealth President Giuseppe N. Colasurdo, M.D., has named George M. Stancel, Ph.D., executive vice president for Academic and Research Affairs, to represent UTHealth on the System working group and to chair our campus working group. The System working group has already begun weekly meetings via teleconference.
By Dec. 4, 2015, presidents will submit preliminary campus plans to System leadership. After considering System feedback, presidents will submit final plans by Dec. 18, 2015. In February 2016, the Board of Regents will review campus plans, which the Board may amend by a two-thirds vote. Final implementation must then be completed by Aug. 1, 2016.
Stancel is assembling the UTHealth working group to develop recommendations for Colasurdo. Membership will include representatives from the Inter-Faculty Council (IFC), Student InterCouncil (SIC), the Classified Staff Council (CSC), the University of Texas Police Department at Houston, Environmental Health and Safety and other university offices. The composition of the working group will be posted in the Safety & Security section of Inside UTHealth, the university’s campus-wide intranet. The UTHealth working group will be in close communication with the Texas Medical Center, Harris Health System, the Memorial Hermann Healthcare System and other affiliates to coordinate planning.
Beginning next week, the Safety & Security section of Inside UTHealth will contain periodic updates from the UT System and UTHealth working groups, and list of FAQs.
As part of each “Campus Carry” update provided on the intranet, students, faculty and staff will have the opportunity to submit comments, including support and suggestions for implementing campus carry provisions as well as suggestions for exclusion zones. Town Hall meetings have also been scheduled to receive UTHealth community feedback.