TCCTA has urged consistently that local colleges should be allowed to decide for themselves whether to allow licensed gun owners to bring their weapons into campus buildings. Under the law passed in 2015, such an exemption is not permitted.
However, unlike universities, community colleges are not required to implement a guns-on-campus plan until August 2017—significantly, after adjournment of the next Regular Session, which convenes in January of that year. Public universities (private schools have institutional discretion) are now engaged in formulating plans for fall 2016, with debate centering on so-called gun-free zones, which schools are allowed to create under the law. Court challenges are likely, according to various media reports, but so far it doesn’t appear as if universities will be allowed to prohibit guns from classrooms or faculty offices. Dormitories, health centers, and sports facilities are more likely gun-free sites under the present statute.
We are now in an election cycle. The party primaries for Legislative seats (and other offices) are set for March 1, with early voting scheduled to begin Feb. 16. In Texas, primaries are often the “real” election these days, as nominees for both parties are highly favored to win in November. This situation is due partly to the way district lines are drawn—a partisan strategy that has become highly sophisticated.
In the Republican Primary, and perhaps in some Democratic contests, it will probably be impossible to find candidates who oppose campus carry. In fact, it’s reportedly likely that the 2017 Session will produce an end to the “gun-free” exemption altogether.
However, it may be feasible to find candidates who will at least consider an institutional exemption. If so, now is the time to ask the question, while campaigning occurs in each House and Senate district.
In discussing the issue, you may wish to stress that community colleges in Texas come in all shapes and sizes. Some schools already have armed security guards but others do not, particularly in rural areas. Sophisticated alarm and security systems are feasible only at some schools. And, frankly, some schools are located in areas where guns are more popular. These geographic, economic, and cultural distinctions should be taken into consideration when formulating public policy. Please convey this point of view to lawmakers.
Here is a link to find out Who Represents Me? Concentrate on Texas Senators and Representatives. (Not all Senators will be up for election in 2016.)