The Austin Community College board of trustees spent nearly an hour Monday asking questions about how the school’s new campus carry policy will be articulated to ACC’s students, faculty and staff come fall semester.
The state policy—which was passed by the Texas Legislature in 2015 and says people can carry concealed handguns on Texas community college campuses starting Aug. 1—outlines the exclusion, or gun-free zones, and explains who is eligible to carry a concealed handgun on campus.
Molly Beth Malcolm—who co-chaired the campus carry implementation task force that developed the policy over six months—said faculty will be required to show a short video that explains campus carry and identifies the gun-free zones around campus to each class at the beginning of the semester.
“This was not a decision made lightly,” she said.
Sean Hassan, who was elected to the board of trustees after winning in a runoff election last December, called the law an “excessive regulation” and said the video would take up “valuable student educational time”.
He said he was also concerned about how the law would affect non-Texan visitors to campus, particularly those coming to see campus facilities and incubators.
“My concern is this is so bad for business,” he said. “The legislation is not thinking about business thriving in this community.”
Chris Cervini, who headed the implementation task force, said language is currently being developed on the community college-specific consequences of a student displaying a handgun on campus. Per Texas law, intentionally displaying a handgun on a college campus or going into a gun-free zone with a concealed handgun is a Class A misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail and a $4,000 fine.
Cervini said in addition to the educational video, training materials about campus carry are currently being developed and will be available online. He said 2-foot-by-4-foot signs will be displayed on the doors of every room—about 140-150 of them—that is a designated gun-free zone. Gun-free zones include testing centers, polling places and child labs.
“Some of the policies were developed thinking about the reasonableness of the [licensed to carry]holder, to know the training they have been through, [and]to know where they can and can’t take a weapon,” Cervini said.
Following the presentation, ACC President and CEO Richard Rhodes commended the task force for its work on the policy.
“This is not something I think any of us feel comfortable moving forward with, but we don’t have a choice,” he said. “This is the law.”
ACC’s fall semester begins Aug. 28.