CANYON, TX (KFDA) - Today is the first day back to school for the students at West Texas A & M University and even though many students are returning to a familiar campus, there is one major change.
The Texas Campus Carry law went into effect August 1st all around the state, meaning starting today West Texas A&M is no longer a gun free campus.
Students or faculty who are licensed to carry and decide to have their gun on campus they must have their handgun on their person. The gun must not be able to be seen at any time while on campus.
The meaning of on or about their person means that a person may carry a handgun in a manner that the handgun must be close enough to the license holder that he or she can grasp it without materially changing position.
Properly securing handguns is critical to campus safety and security.
This policy is designed to ensure that an unattended handgun is securely stored.
WTAMU Residence Life will provide lock boxes for students living on campus. Students who don't reside on campus must keep their guns locked in a personal vehicle if it is not on their person.
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On June 1, 2015, Gov. Greg Abbott signed Senate Bill 11 passed by the 84th Texas Legislature and known as the "campus carry" law.
SB 11 allows license holders to carry a concealed handgun throughout university campuses, starting Aug. 1, 2016. Read more about this new legislation. (scroll down for Campus Carry.)
The law gives public universities some discretion to regulate campus carry by establishing reasonable rules and regulations, although the provisions may not generally prohibit license holders from carrying concealed handguns on campus.
In keeping with the law, the university president appointed a Campus Carry Council (CCC) to consult with students, staff and faculty regarding special factors and considerations in developing WTAMU's rules and regulations. The Council drafted a proposed rule, which was reviewed by the executive cabinet, and approved by the Texas A&M University System Board of Regents at its April 27, 2016 meeting. The WTAMU rules are available here:
The WTAMU regulations conform to the new law while supporting our educational mission, protecting the rights of citizens and promoting the safety and security of the entire campus.
The CCC currently is meeting to make sure that all the provisions of the WTAMU plan are implemented by the August 1 effective date.
Below are a few Facts and a Question and Answer section.
Facts about the Law
The law does NOT allow open carry on campus.
SB 11 deals only with the concealed carry of handguns by people who have a concealed carry license. It is now — and will still be — illegal to display a firearm in campus buildings, or on campus streets, sidewalks, walkways, etc.
A person must have a license to carry a concealed handgun on campus.
SB 11 authorizes concealed campus carry only by "license holders," that is, people who received the state-mandated training and met other statutory requirements for a license to carry a concealed handgun.
One must be 21 to obtain a license to carry.
The minimum age for obtaining a license to carry a concealed handgun is ordinarily 21. (Members and veterans of the military may obtain a license before age 21.)
License holders have been allowed to carry concealed handguns on campus (but not in buildings) for 20 years.
Since 1995, the law has allowed license holders to carry concealed handguns on campus. The inability to carry concealed handguns into campus buildings no doubt limited the number of people carrying concealed handguns on campus.
The law still makes it a crime for a license holder to carry a concealed handgun while intoxicated.
This is a class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail. Police officers may act upon any trace of alcoholic consumption. WATMU Rule 34.06.02.W1 - Appendix - 1
Who has the authority to ask an employee who is carrying a concealed weapon if s/he has the appropriate permit?
A handgun license holder is not required to disclose that he/she has a license to anyone except a magistrate or peace officer, including university police. A person engaged in lawful activity (i.e., applying for and obtaining a handgun license) is not required to provide information to any person, including a university official, about their personal choices, beliefs or practices.
Can an appointing authority or supervisor request a list of employees who have received a concealed carry permit?
No. This information is not a matter of public record.
What responsibility does a concealed carry permit holder have to keep his/her weapon absolutely concealed? Are they violating the terms of their permit if someone gets a glimpse of their weapon?
A person with a concealed carry permit must take reasonable measures to conceal the weapon. For example, if a person's coat opens in the act of raising his/her arm to ask a question and a gun can be seen, it is not a violation. A violation would be a person taking a gun out of concealment or otherwise displaying/brandishing it. WATMU Rule 34.06.02.W1 - Appendix
Can I personally make a rule that someone who has a license to carry a handgun cannot carry into my office, classroom or laboratory?
No. Effective August 1, 2016, concealed carry is allowed on university campuses, including all offices, classrooms, and laboratories by anyone holding a valid handgun license, unless carrying a handgun is prohibited by state law, federal law or university rules. SB 273 prohibits the university and its employees from imposing restrictions greater than those imposed by law. Violations of SB 273 can result in a fine to the university as high as $10,500 per day.
Will guns be allowed in residence halls?
Since those obtaining a concealed carry license generally must be 21, the great majority of WTAMU residential students will not be able to conceal carry. The law allows the university to establish rules, regulations or other provisions concerning the storage of handguns in residential facilities. The university has established a policy for safe storage of handguns in residential facilities. Lockers in compliance with the rule will be available for rental through the Office of Residential Living.
WATMU Rule 34.06.02.W1 - 4
Will guns be allowed in classrooms or at sporting events?
Classrooms have not been restricted from concealed carry under the university rules and regulations. All collegiate sporting events will be posted as gun-free zones during the competitions. UIL or other events in which concealed carry is prohibited by statute will be signed to inform visitors of the nature of the event, and it will be the responsibility of the license-holder to comply. WATMU Rule 34.06.02.W1 - 5
What if I feel threatened?
Anyone who feels threatened should call the University Police or Emergency 911.
How will I know if my classmates or students have guns?
If a CHL holder is in compliance with the law, you should be unaware that the individual has a gun. The law prohibits licensed holders from carrying a handgun that is partially or wholly visible, or displaying the handgun intentionally and knowingly in plain view of another person.
Will faculty and staff be allowed to carry guns?
Any individual who holds a current and valid concealed handgun license (CHL) may carry a concealed handgun where permitted on university property.
How does the Open Carry law affect the Campus Carry law?
The Campus Carry law applies to all land and buildings owned or leased by an institution of higher education. Open Carry is not permitted on university property. Violators of the Campus Carry law will be subject to gun confiscation, legal action and possible revocation of their CHL by state authorities.
What if I see someone with a gun?
Contact campus police.