The controversial campus carry law was enacted in Texas in 2016. It is rolled out to community colleges this year. Despite initial concerns, most community colleges are resisting moves to ban guns in classrooms with minors.
The Texas Tribune noted guns in classrooms with teens under 18 are likely to become the reality this summer.
Some state lawmakers predicted that it would be difficult for community colleges to implement a law that allows concealed handgun license holders to carry firearms on campus. The reason is the presence of minors, a factor not relevant at universities.
The potential hurdle meant Texas legislators allowed the two-year colleges an extra year before the 2015 law went into effect.
On Aug. 1 guns will be legal at numerous community colleges and junior colleges in Texas. The issue is not proving to be as complicated as anticipated.
Guns in classrooms have raised debate
The Tribune reported guns in classrooms are likely to become the reality at most colleges, even when students under 18 are present.
The report noted that Texas still bans guns in its high schools. However, that ban is not going to apply to community college classes with high school students.
The collages are concluding that high school ban does not apply to them. They cite a legal opinion Attorney General Ken Paxton issued. Paxton said schools were not entitled to prohibit guns in all their classes because minors may be present in all classrooms.
Paxton’s said schools are allowed to draw up reasonable rules that consider the “nature of the student population.” He said gun bans could be entertained in classrooms where this is a congregation of minors or locations where childcare services are present.
There are many gray areas in this opinion. Paxton’s views are not legally binding. The attorney general did not spell out what percentage of high school students a class should have before a gun ban can be implemented. The Tribune article said colleges are at liberty to push the boundaries of the law. None have chosen to so far.
Many community colleges are interpreting Paxton’s advice to mean they should only ban guns in classes made up entirely of students under 18.
Guns in Classrooms – Campus Carry was Implemnted in 2016
The campus carry law proved to be controversial when first implemented in 2016. Some academics at the University of Texas in Austin filed a lawsuit about guns in their classes. That legal action failed.
The University of Texas said license holders will “generally be allowed to carry concealed handguns” at the university and at other public universities in Texas. No specific information appeared on the website relating to the right to carry guns in classrooms.
A lack of incidents since campus carry became a reality may have taken the sting out of the issue. In more than six months since guns in classrooms at universities became a reality, there has been just one incident. A student at Tarleton State accidentally fired his gun while in his dorm room without causing injuries.
The lack of clarity at community college level could be problematic. If rules are unclear, students may not know their gun rights and be wrongly arrested. If you are charged with a firearm offense, call our Austin criminal defense lawyers at (512) 399-2311.