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Handbook of Operating Procedures

Concealed Handguns on Campus

Policy Number: 222

Subject:

Carrying of concealed handguns on campus 

Scope:

All members of the university community, including employees, students, residents and other trainees, visitors, volunteers, contractors, vendors, consultants, and observers

Date Reviewed:
August 2016
Responsible Office:
Office of the President
Responsible Executive:
President

I. POLICY AND GENERAL STATEMENT

The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston ("university") is committed to maintaining a safe environment for all members of the university community while complying with applicable federal, state, and local laws and regulations. 

Section 411.2031 of the Texas Government Code, commonly known as the “Campus Carry Law,” permits licensed holders to carry a concealed handgun on or about the license holder’s person while the license holder is on the campus of an institution of higher education.  The law also provides that the President of an institution of higher education shall establish reasonable rules, regulations, or other provisions regarding the carrying of concealed handguns by license holders on the campus of the institution or on premises located on the campus.

This policy contains the rules, regulations and other provisions established by the university President regarding the carrying of concealed handguns on the university campus and premises located on the campus.

Open carry of handguns is not permitted on the university campus or premises located on the campus.

II. DEFINITIONS

Campus: all land and buildings owned or leased by the university.

Concealed handgun: a handgun, the presence of which is not openly discernable to the ordinary observation of a reasonable person.

Exclusion zones: areas in which concealed handguns are prohibited.

Gun storage safe: a lockable safe or secure storage container specifically designed to protect a handgun from access by anyone other than the licensed owner. The container must fully contain the handgun and provide sufficient defense to unauthorized access. It is recommended that the safe or residential security container meet Underwriters Laboratories Residential Security Container rating standards and ASTM International F2456 04 standards for Youth Resistant Firearms Containers. 

Handgun: any firearm that is designed, made, or adapted to be fired with one hand.

Licensed holder: a person licensed to carry a handgun under Subchapter H, Chapter 411, Texas Government Code.

Premises: a building or a portion of a building. The term does not include any public or private driveway, street, sidewalk or walkway, parking lot, parking garage, or other parking area.

III. PROCEDURE

A. General Rules

Licensed holders who carry a concealed handgun on the university campus or premises must carry it on or about their person at all times or secure their handgun in a locked, privately owned or privately leased car or vehicle, except as provided in Section E below. It is recommended that licensed holders who carry a concealed handgun about their person (e.g., in purses, backpacks, briefcases) keep the handgun in a holster designed to prevent/minimize accidental discharge.

Licensed holders may carry a concealed handgun in all university parking garages and parking lots in accordance with law.  Licensed holders may also carry a concealed handgun on or about their person in all university classrooms and teaching areas (including teaching laboratories), except in those buildings or areas designated as exclusion zones. Licensed holders may also carry a concealed handgun on university shuttles. 

B. Exclusion Zones

Concealed handguns are prohibited in the following areas:

  1. All patient care areas. Patient care areas are interpreted broadly to include hospitals; clinics, including student and faculty health clinics; medical, dental and nurse-run clinics; mental health facilities and counseling centers; and health-related testing areas (e.g., for audiology, optometry, learning disabilities); 
  2. Laboratories containing dangerous materials, including, but not limited to, flammable chemicals, biohazards, compressed gases and explosive agents;
  3. Laboratories, patient care areas, or other venues containing equipment that could inadvertently cause the discharge of a handgun (e.g., magnetic resonance imaging machines); 
  4. Animal care areas and vivaria; 
  5. Areas for which state or federal law, licensing requirements or contracts require exclusion of weapons at the discretion of state or federal government, or in which handguns are prohibited by an accrediting authority; and 
  6. Rooms where formal hearings, prescribed by university policy and/or processes, are being conducted for or related to the following purposes:

a. Employee and student grievances or disciplinary inquiries, hearings, and related proceedings; 

b, Appeals and formal hearings related to employee terminations; and

c. Appeals and formal hearings related to student dismissals and academic proceedings.

Appropriate signage will be placed on the entrances to these rooms when such hearings are in progress, and meeting notices and invitations will indicate that these rooms are exclusion zones while hearings are in progress.

C. Designation of University-Owned Buildings and Facilities

     1. Buildings in which concealed handguns are completely prohibited

If the sum of the net assignable square footage in a building is equal to or greater than 50 percent utilized for patient care areas, laboratories with dangerous materials or equipment, and/or animal care areas and vivaria (see Section B), the entire building will be designated as an exclusion zone. Concealed handguns will not be permitted in any part of a building so designated. Appropriate signage will be placed at building entrances as required by law.

     2. Buildings in which concealed handguns may be permitted, except for designated exclusion zones

If the sum of the net assignable square footage in a building is greater than 25 percent but less than 50 percent utilized for patient care areas, laboratories with dangerous materials or equipment, and animal care areas and vivaria (see Section B), the President will consider the following factors:

  1. Load of traffic within the building including students, employees, visitors and patients;
  2. Number and nature (e.g., card entry, key-only entry) of entry and egress points;
  3. Connections to adjoining buildings in which concealed handguns are prohibited;
  4. The layout and travel patterns within the building, including, but not limited to, stairwells, elevators and hallways between patient care areas, laboratories with dangerous materials and/or equipment, and/or animal care facilities or vivaria and other functionalities (e.g., classrooms, offices, storage and other designated purposes); and
  5. The percentage of building space assigned for patient care areas, laboratories with dangerous materials and/or equipment, and/or animal care facilities or vivaria.

If, on the collective basis of these factors, the President determines that: (a) movements into, out of, and/or within the building are unmanageable without violation of the law or (b) if accurate, understandable communication about the rules to students, employees, visitors, patients and other occupants is impractical, the President shall declare the entire building an exclusion zone.

If the President determines that movements into, out of, and/or within the building are manageable without violation of the law and can be realistically communicated to all parties, concealed handguns will be permitted within the building except in areas designated as exclusion zones (see Section B). These exclusion areas must then be clearly marked with appropriate signage.

     3. Buildings in which handguns are permitted, except for designated exclusion zones

If the sum of the net assignable square footage in a building is less than 25 percent utilized for patient care areas, laboratories with dangerous materials or equipment, and/or animal care facilities or vivaria (see Section B), concealed handguns will be permitted within the building, except in areas designated as exclusion zones (see Section B), which must be clearly marked with appropriate signage.

A list of designations for current university-owned buildings and facilities can be found here.

D. Leased Space

The determination of whether licensed holders may carry concealed handguns in space that the university leases in buildings owned by other parties and space leased by the university in its buildings to non-university occupants will be determined based on lease agreements and other legal considerations. 

  1. Tenants in university-owned buildings will generally be permitted to determine whether to permit concealed handguns in their leased space, unless the entire building is designated as an exclusion zone or the lease agreement prohibits carrying weapons. If a tenant in a university building is acting as an agent of the university, the university shall determine whether to prohibit concealed handguns in the leased space on the basis of the rules applied to its other campus buildings and facilities.
  2. If the university leases space from a landlord that has established a policy of prohibiting concealed handguns in the lease and/or building rules, the university will abide by the prohibition. If the university leases space from a landlord that permits concealed handguns on the property or is silent on the matter, the university will determine whether to prohibit concealed handguns in the leased space on the basis of the rules as applied to its own campus buildings and facilities (see Sections B and C). 

E. University Housing

Licensed holders may carry concealed handguns on or about their person in university housing. Licensed holders who are university housing residents may store handguns in their apartments in a gun storage safe, with the stipulation that the safe must have secondary concealment (e.g., in a locked drawer or room) at all times so that transfer in or out of the safe would not be visible to other apartment occupants or visitors.

This stipulation will be included in lease agreements, and failure to adhere to requirements in the lease agreement will be cause for the university to terminate the lease agreement and require the occupant to vacate the apartment. Residents or visitors who are licensed holders are permitted to keep handguns in their locked cars or vehicles in parking garages and surface parking areas of university housing as permitted by law.

F. Communication of Policy and Rules

The university will widely distribute this policy and all related rules, regulations and procedures to members of the university community, including employees, students, residents and other trainees, visitors, volunteers, contractors, vendors, consultants, and observers.  The university will prominently publish a link to such information on the university’s internet and intranet sites.

G. Reports to the Legislature

Not later than September 1 of each even-numbered year, the university will submit a report to the Legislature that (1) describes the university’s rules, regulations, or other provisions regarding the carrying of concealed handguns on the campus of the institution; and (2) explains the reasons that the university has established these rules.  The President will periodically, and at least every two years, review the university’s rules, regulations and other provisions regarding the carrying of concealed handguns for possible modifications in accordance with the law and as necessary for campus safety.

H. Reporting of Incidents

If any person believes that a violation of this policy has occurred, he or she should report the incident to the Behaviors of Concern Call Center (713-792-7867) or The University of Texas Police – Houston (713-563-7794).  In the event of a threat of imminent bodily harm, injury or use of a weapon, the reporting individual should seek protective cover and call 911 immediately. Once the situation is safe, the reporting individual should report the incident to the Behaviors of Concern Call Center and UTP-H, if not already notified. See HOOP 39, Campus and Workplace Violence Prevention and HOOP 2, Campus Security.

I. Violations of Policy

Violations of this policy may lead to disciplinary action up to, and including, termination for employees; discipline and/or dismissal of students; cancellation of contracts with vendors and contractors; refusal of services to patients, clients, and visitors; and, when applicable, the pursuit of criminal actions. Loss of a handgun on the university campus or premises will be considered a violation of this policy.

IV. CONTACTS

    • Office of the President
    • 713-500-3002
    • https://www.uth.edu/president/