Aug 5th 2016 | Posted in Education by Priscilla Loebenberg

Questions and challenges have arisen recently regarding Texas’ handgun laws due to two pieces of legislation enacted this year known as open carry and campus carry. Campus carry in particular has received widespread attention due to public debates over regulations at the university level.

open carry

Photo by Lucio Eastman – Creative Commons

The open carry law (House Bill 910) went into effect Jan. 1. For those handgun owners who already possessed a concealed handgun license the only change might be how they wear their gun as holstered handguns are now allowed in public view. One notable exception to this law is on the premises of public or private institutions of higher education. Open carry is not allowed at colleges but concealed carry is allowed at some institutions, the rules of which are defined under the new campus carry law.

Campus carry (Senate Bill 11) went into effect Aug. 1. It authorizes licensed handgun owners to carry a concealed handgun on the campus of a public or private institution of higher learning. However, it also authorizes the institutions of higher education to establish reasonable rules regarding the carrying of concealed handguns.

Most private universities in Texas have opted out of campus carry. Many universities are banning guns in dorms.

Fenves, Greg 2015

Gregory Fenves

The University of Texas at Austin President Gregory Fenves addressed some confusion between the open carry and campus carry laws in a press conference this week.

“Open carry is against the law and continues to be against the law,” he said about the carrying handguns on campus.

Fenves also answered concerns that campus carry rules will affect the recruiting of students and faculty. So far, he said, the university has seen no undue effects.

“We’re certainly going to monitor the effects,” said Fenves. “We have recruited quite a few faculty since the law passed.”

Emotions have been high at UT Austin which recognized the 50-year anniversary of a mass shooting by sniper Charles Whitman at the top of the campus clock tower on the same day the campus carry law was enacted. Three UT-Austin professors have sued to overturn the campus carry law.

General restrictions on open carry are the same as they were under concealed handgun laws. Handguns are not allowed at businesses that derive 51 percent or more of their income from the sale of alcohol; at school or professional sporting events; at correctional facilities; at a hospital or nursing home with proper notification; at an amusement park; in a house of worship; at any meeting of a government entity subject to the Texas Open Meetings Act; at a school or on a school bus; at a polling place during elections; in a government court or court offices; at a racetrack; in a secured area at an airport; or within 1,000 feet of an execution.

For more information about handgun laws, visit www.txdps.state.tx.us/rsd/chl/index.htm.