LSCS implementing campus carry rules effective Aug. 1Community colleges across the state, including Lone Star College System, are taking steps to prepare for campus carry regulations that go into effect in August.

The LSCS board of trustees approved 15 recommendations related to the new law during a March 2 board meeting. The recommendations can be broken down into four categories: regulations for gun-free exclusionary zones; responsibilities for license to carry holders; LSCS community education and training; and campus carry safety advisory committee guidelines, said Rand Key, LSCS police commissioner and Campus Carry Task Force chairman. 

“I know that most of our people that are licensed to carry are good, law-abiding citizens,” Key said. “They’ve been through all the hoops and hurdles to get that license to carry, so when I have them up there as someone who’s going to need training, I want to make sure that they understand the duties and responsibilities.”

The recommendations go into effect Aug. 1 and were suggested and approved in response to Senate Bill 11—the campus carry law. SB 11 was passed in June 2015 and was authored by local legislators Sen. Paul Bettencourt, R-Houston, Sen. Brandon Creighton, R-Conroe, and Sen. Lois Kolkhorst, R-Brenham, among others.

Under SB 11, concealed carry is allowed on public college campuses in Texas. However, open carry is still strictly prohibited. Prior to the passage of the campus carry bill, no guns were allowed in the possession of students, faculty or staff on college campuses. Concealed carry authorizes license to carry holders to possess hidden firearms on their person in public, while open carry does not require people to conceal their weapons. Anyone openly carrying a firearm is also required to have a license to carry.

LSCS implementing campus carry rules effective Aug. 1“This is not easy,” LSCS Chancellor Steve Head said. “[There are] challenges we’re having trying to adhere to the law requirements and the practical aspects of this.”

Although the law goes into effect for community colleges Aug. 1, some board members expressed concerns about its implementation.

“Campus carry is a terrible bill,” trustee Myriam Saldivar said. “I do not believe that weapons should be in education institutions, but we have it and we have to work with it.”

The college system is working to produce signage outlining what areas will allow a license holder to carry a concealed handgun on each campus, LSCS Chief of Police Paul Willingham said. The signage will also show gun-free areas.

During the spring and summer 2017 semesters, LSCS faculty, staff and students can expect gun-free zones to be identified, Key said. The task force is also preparing learning materials to be completed before the Aug. 1 campus carry implementation date.

“Our officers will receive updated instructions and training on the rights of licensed holders and how it applies to Lone Star College and this legislation,” Willingham said.

Head said to increase safety and security on campuses within the college system, more funds will be directed toward increased police coverage in the 2017-18 budget.