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Guns Should Not Be Banned in Classrooms, Says UT Austin Campus Carry Panel

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A group asked to provide UT Austin President Greg Fenves with recommendations to implement the state's new campus carry law said UT Austin should not prohibit concealed handguns from classrooms, but should prohibit handguns from ticketed sporting events, laboratories and on-campus residence halls, with some exceptions. 

The report provided 25 recommendations that include how guns should be carried, where UT should place signs to alert license holders where they can and cannot carry their handgun, where handguns should and shouldn't be allowed, and how UT should educate students, faculty and staff about the new law.

While the working group said all of its 19 members agreed guns should not be allowed in classrooms, they couldn't issue that recommendation because it would violate the part of the new law that says universities' rules can't "generally prohibit" license holders from carrying their handguns on campus. 

"The only possible way to avoid this result would be for the University to provide gun lockers at strategic points around campus. We believe that this would be an extremely ill-advised measure, and we cannot recommend it," the group wrote, citing statistics indicating handguns are more likely to go off accidentally while being transferred to and from lockers.

Guns Should Not Be Banned in Classrooms, Says UT Austin Campus Carry Panel
Interview with Steven Goode, chair of UT Austin Campus Carry Working Group

“Keeping them out of on campus residence halls affects on a tiny sliver of the on-campus population and doesn’t constitute a general prohibition," says UT Law Professor Steven Goode, who headed the working group, in a conference call with reporters. "However, classrooms affects 50,000 students.” Goode says the working group found less than one percent of students in on-campus dorms are over 21 and can qualify for a concealed handgun license. 

The recommendations will now be reviewed by Fenves, who can amend them before he passes the list on to the Board of Regents.

The state legislature passed the campus carry law during the last legislative session. It goes into effect August 1, 2016.

UT Working Group Recommendations, Simplified:

1. When on campus, a license holder must carry handgun at all times, keep it locked in their car, or have it in a backpack within reach. 

  • Exception: If a license holder lives or works in University Apartments (not an on-campus residence hall), they can keep it in a gun safe in the apartment. 

2. License holders must carry all handguns in a holster that cover the gun's trigger and trigger guard. The gun shouldn't be able to easily fall out when the holster is shaken.
3. License holders can't carry semiautomatic handguns with bullets in the chamber.

4. Handguns aren't allowed near Pre-K or K-12 schools or school activities. UT should post a list of places where those events occur on campus so license holders know where they can and cannot carry their handgun. 

5. Handguns aren't allowed near a polling place. UT should put signs on campus from early voting through Election Day so license holders know where they can and cannot carry their handgun. 

6. Handguns aren't allowed in courtrooms. UT should post signs at the entrance to on-campus courtrooms (at the law school), justice chambers and jury rooms (in the Connally Center for Justice).

7. The Cactus Cafe and Gabriel's Cafe in the AT&T Conference Center serve alcohol, so they must post that handguns are not allowed in those areas.

8.  If handguns are not allowed at college sports games, UT should print that on tickets to notify those who attend a game. Vendors who attend but don’t receive tickets should be told in writing that concealed handguns are not allowed.

9. There are many places where handguns aren’t allowed by state or federal law. UT must put up signs to inform license holders where those locations are.

10. No concealed handguns in places with any kind of medical patient, including locations offering mental health services.

11. No concealed handguns at ticketed sporting events.

12. No concealed handguns in areas where student disciplinary hearings are being conducted.

13. No concealed handguns in labs with chemicals or explosives.

14. No concealed handguns in animal-research facilities or animal-care locations.

15. Those who work with minors on campus must agree not to carry a concealed handgun at the program location. Children's participation in these programs is conditional upon parents' and attendees' agreement that they will not carry a concealed handgun to the program location.

16. Handguns should be prohibited in on-campus dorms, but not in University Apartments.

  • Exception 1: Handguns are allowed in common areas.
  • Exception 2: Family members with handgun licenses are allowed to carry concealed handguns while visiting dorms.
  • Exception 3: Staff members who work in on-campus dorms can carry a concealed handgun
  • University Apartment residents must keep their handgun in a locked car or a gun safe.

17. Gun safes must be able to fit all firearms, have steel walls, have a high-strength lock system and be secured in the residence of the license holder.
18. Those on campus who have a private office can prohibit concealed handguns in their office. They must tell people verbally that a concealed handgun is prohibited. If they must meet with concealed license holders who will be carrying their firearms, they must agree to meet with that license holder in a location outside of their office where handguns are permitted.

19. UT should amend its rules and regulations to state that accidentally discharging a firearm will lead to disciplinary action.

20. If a student violates university rules for carrying or storing a concealed handgun, they could lose their university housing.

21. Areas that prohibit handguns are called Exclusion Zones. Rules for those areas should be handled on a case-by-case basis depending on the building. The working group says UT should consider the percentage of space where handguns are excluded, how close those areas are to the rest of a building, or how often the building is used when deciding where to place Exclusion Zones and how to alert license holders where they are.

22. UT should create training materials for students, faculty and staff on how to respond to an active shooter situation.

23. The University should have a detailed Campus Carry FAQ.

24. UT should prepare information for prospective students and their parents about campus carry.

25. Faculty and staff who don’t have offices should have periodic access to offices in exclusion zones if they would like to conduct business in a gun-exclusion zone. 

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