Community, Lone Star College System consider campus carry law

A forum addressing proposed laws to expand gun rights at colleges drew Lone Star College students, faculty and community members to the LSC-CyFair Conference Center on March 31.

A forum addressing proposed laws to expand gun rights at colleges drew Lone Star College students, faculty and community members to the LSC-CyFair Conference Center on March 31.

As state legislators move closer to expanding gun rights at public colleges and universities, Lone Star College System officials conducted two public forums to educate the community on the proposed laws and gather feedback.


A March 31 forum at LSC-CyFair featured an overview of the two bills—House Bill 937 and Senate Bill 11—and a discussion of the pros and cons if they were to pass. The event was open to students, faculty and community members and drew hundreds of attendees.


“It’s an issue that people are passionate about on both sides,” said Mark Thorsby, forum moderator and chairman of the philosophy department at LSC-CyFair. “The goal is to engender dialogue rather than debate. We want people to speak to each other rather than at each other.”


Attendees formed groups and were asked to share opinions on whether they supported the expansion, opposed it, were undecided or neutral. They were also asked to discuss the merits of including a local control option, which would allow the LSCS board of trustees to ultimately control the extent to which gun rights are expanded at system campuses.


Such an option was not included in SB 11 when it passed in the state Senate March 19, but board members passed a resolution at an April 9 meeting calling for one to be included as an amendment if the bill is passed.


Attendees were polled upon entering the forum. Results showed 54 percent were against the expansion, 30 percent were for it and 16 percent were undecided. Results from a poll taken after the forum showed opposition increasing to 62 percent while support decreased to 28 percent.


The results  of the poll and discussions from the public forum will be considered by the board in the formation of future policies, LSCS board Chairwoman Linda Good said.


“If legislation passes providing a local option, we need to know where the community stands so we can make well-informed decisions,” she said. “If a local option isn’t included, we still have to figure out how to live with this law. Everything from hiring more police officers to training our employees in conflict resolution could potentially be a part of this.”


Bill details


If passed, HB 937 and SB 11 would allow individuals with concealed handgun licenses to carry a concealed weapon anywhere on public college or university campuses. Existing law allows concealed carry on college campuses but not inside buildings.


Citizens are required to be 21 years of age or older to obtain a CHL, which would exclude the majority of college students in the state. However, approximately 59 percent of LSCS students are 21 or older, according to demographic data.




“Everything from hiring more police officers to training our employees in conflict resolution could potentially be a part of this.”


—Linda Good, chair of the Lone Star College System board of trustees



SB 11, filed by state Sen. Brian Birdwell, R-Granbury, was passed by the Senate along party lines and was sent on to the House of Representatives on March 20. HB 937, filed by state Rep. Allen Fletcher, R-Cypress, was referred by the Homeland Security and
Public Safety Committee March 5. A report on the bill was sent to Calendars April 15. The House is expected to be divided along party lines as well.


Proponents of the bill say its purpose is centered on self-defense, and add citizens should be able to protect themselves in threatening situations.


“If something bad happens on campus, I don’t want to be at the mercy of the criminals who aren’t going to abide by the law anyway,” said Jonathan Hamilton, a LSCS student and six-year Army veteran.


Opponents say it would make campuses more dangerous and negatively affect relationships between students and faculty.


“I watch my students to see how they’re doing, not to watch out for a weapon that might misfire or be pulled out,” said Roberta Short, an associate professor of English at LSC-CyFair. “I fundamentally believe this will create a cultural shift for faculty.”


The Senate bill includes provisions that make on-campus hospitals, sporting venues and day care centers exempt from the law. SB 11 would also grant universities immunity from lawsuits for the actions of a CHL holder on campus and allow schools to impose rules on the storage of weapons in dorms and residence halls.


An amendment to SB 17, which calls for open carry to be legalized statewide, specified open carry would still be illegal on college campuses even if both laws pass this session. SB 11 also allows private universities to opt out and continue with existing gun bans.

By Shawn Arrajj
Shawn Arrajj serves as the editor of the Cy-Fair edition of Community Impact Newspaper where he covers the Cy-Fair and Jersey Village communities. He mainly writes about development, transportation and issues in Harris County.


MOST RECENT

Over 1,200 people came to an event seeking financial assistance through Harris County on Aug. 3. (Emma Whalen/Community Impact Newspaper)
Federal eviction moratorium extended as Harris County continues financial relief efforts

Harris County tenants behind on rent have some opportunity for relief after federal officials extended the U.S. eviction moratorium to Oct. 3 and local leaders opened a new direct assistance fund.

Harris County has raised the coronavirus threat level to red. (Screenshot Courtesy Facebook)
Harris County raises coronavirus threat level to red as cases continue to surge

Coronavirus hospitalizations reached over 300 patients per day Aug. 4.

(Courtesy Handel's Homemade Ice Cream)
Handel's Homemade Ice Cream anticipates fall opening for Regal Benders Landing

The ice cream shop's opening has been delayed to October.

Montgomery County commissioners are funding two new animal cruelty investigators. The county previously did not have a unit for animal cruelty crimes, according to Precinct 2's Captain Greg Thomason. (Courtesy Montgomery County Animal Shelter)
Montgomery County Commissioners Court funds new animal cruelty unit investigator positions

The unit will be tasked with responding to animal cruelty cases in collaboration with Montgomery County Animal Services.

Gov. Greg Abbott announced the date for a second special legislative session. (Jack Flagler/Community Impact Newspaper)
Gov. Abbott announces second special session agenda

The special session will be Aug. 7 with 17 items on the agenda ranging from bail reform to employment.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently updated its masking guidance, recommending all individuals to wear masks indoors in areas where transmission rates of COVID-19 are high. (Courtesy Texas Children's Hospital)
Texas' chief state epidemiologist urges the community to get vaccinated as COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths rise

Covid-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths are on the rise, particularly within unvaccinated populations

Tom Lambert, the Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County, delivered a presentation at an August North Houston Association meeting about the plan's progress and future  (Courtesy METRO)
Metropolitan Transit Authority outlines light rail funding developments, COVID-19 ridership effect on METRONext

At a North Houston Association transportation committee meeting, METRO President Tom Lambert provided an update about the METRONext Moving Forward plan.

Chicking Out serves a variety of grilled chicken options. (Courtesy Chicking Out)
Chicking Out restaurant coming to The Woodlands; live-fire steakhouse coming to Inner Loop and more Houston-area news

Read the latest business and community news from the Greater Houston area, including the opening of a professional wrestling figure collector shop.

(Courtesy Chicking Out)
Grilled chicken restaurant Chicking Out coming soon to Gosling Road

Chicking Out will host a grand opening Aug. 20. 

Q&A: Greg Smith, executive director of Fast Growth School Coalition

Greg Smith is the former superintendent of Clear Creek ISD and became executive director of Fast Growth School Coalition in December 2020. 

ESD 11 officials said the Ford F-450 Extra Cab vehicles are built with the safety of patients and crew in mind. (Courtesy Harris County Emergency Services District No. 11)
Harris County's ESD 11 Mobile Healthcare receives first of 40 new ambulances

ESD 11 will continue to receive shipments of four to five new ambulances every week until all have been received.

In July 2021, Montgomery County recorded 367 cases of COVID-19 in children under 12, the second-most in 2021 and over five times higher than the number in June (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Montgomery County records increase in COVID-19 cases in children under 12

The county saw the second straight week of active cases increasing by over 1,000. COVID-19 hospitalization reached 12.4% of total hospital capacity.