Now that the primaries are over (except for a handful of run-offs) we have a decent picture of the candidates for the Texas House and Senate, which will convene in January as the 85th Legislature. This is an excellent time to communicate with incumbents and aspirants while they are "at home."
Community and technical college faculty members are understandably concerned about the new campus carry law, as universities formulate their plans for the next school year, generating abundant headlines and controversies over guns. Two-year colleges have until fall semester 2017.
TCCTA has consistently urged that community colleges be allowed to decide for themselves whether to allow licensed carriers of concealed weapons to bring their guns into campus buildings. Hypothetically, such a change could take place before the law takes effect at our schools, as the next Regular Session will conclude in May 2017.
There is no indication that lawmakers are interested in this approach. In fact, key legislators have stated that they want to remove the "gun-free zone" exemption altogether. Some advocates view guns as the protected expression of a constitutional right, which must prevail over local rules. Whatever plan universities formulate, court challenges are likely.
Meanwhile, candidates may listen to an expression of the TCCTA position. Community colleges are widely varied in their location and physical structure. Some classes are held in remote public schools, shopping malls, and retail centers without armed security while, at large urban institutions, campus police officers are more likely on duty. State policy should allow for this diversity.
The TCCTA Legislative and Executive Committees will take up the issue again in the fall, when it formulates the association's program for 2017.