Campus carry on community college campuses start Tuesday

FILE - Austin Community College (KXAN File Photo)
FILE - Austin Community College (KXAN File Photo)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Austin Community College is now required by law to implement campus carry by allowing Licensed to Carry (LTC) holders to carry a concealed handgun on public college campuses. The law takes effect on August 1st.

Implementation has been thought about since 2016, as ACC President and CEO Dr. Richard Rhodes appointed a Campus Carry Implementation Task Force comprised of college student and faculty representation from each campus community and other universities. They worked with faculty, staff, students and legal experts to find policy that best suits ACC.

Although the effects on campus have yet to be determined, Lynn Dixon, Chief of Police at Austin Community College District does not think there will be an effect on ACC because of the law.

“To me, it’s educational on both sides, but I think because of those forums and because we’ve allowed people to play a part in this that it’s minimized any hysteria that’s happened and I think it’s going to go off very smoothly with no problem,” said Dixon. “One side said ‘no I’ll go to a different college, I’ll quit work,’ and the other side said ‘it’s my Second Amendment right,’ but I think after the information got out from the open forums we had it’s kind of settled down.”

ACC officers went through an eight-hour course in preparation for open carry, training them to respond to situations where students could be armed.

Per the law, students must be over 21 to carry. At ACC, that means about 40 percent of students would actually be able to carry concealed on campus.

Certain areas will remain gun free, including testing sites, labs with chemicals, child care areas, any areas where medical care is provided and any areas where minors could be present. ACC also won’t allow students to store their guns on-campus, to cut down on people handling firearms during school hours.

ACC police say anyone who sees a handgun is advised to call the police and they will investigate and determine if the person is licensed to carry and if it was being concealed properly.

When the campus carry law was passed during the 2015 legislative session, university campuses across Texas had to implement campus carry on Aug. 1, 2016, but community colleges were given an extra year to implement.

A spokesperson for the University of Texas says since the university’s implementation last August, school police have received four calls reporting a gun seen on campus. There was also one report of a gun being fired on campus in April. However, only one incident was clearly linked to the campus carry law, when a UT student exposed his handgun while posing for a photo in a campus library. In that case, his gun was no longer concealed, and it triggered an investigation.

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