CTC briefs students on new campus carry policy
By BRITTANY FHOLER
Students and faculty had the chance to listen and ask questions about the campus carry policy that went into effect on August 1 during two presentations held by Central Texas College police and Risk Management on Monday.
The campus carry policy allows licensed handgun holders to conceal carry on campus. Senate Bill 11 allows colleges to establish their own rules in determining where concealed guns can be carried on campus and how they can be stored as well as designating certain areas as “gun-free zones.”
Central Texas College’s policy states that to carry a handgun on campus, the person must have a valid license to carry, as issued by the state of Texas or a state where there is either a unilateral or reciprocal agreement with Texas, which includes all states except for Maine, Minnesota, New Hampshire, Oregon, Vermont and Wisconsin.
LTC holders must carry their handgun on their person at all times in a secure and concealed manner, such as in a holster with a trigger guard, said Chief of Campus Police Mary Wheeler. If the gun is not on their person or within arm’s reach, it must be secured in a locked and privately owned or leased vehicle. Residents of Morton Hall, the residence hall on campus, cannot secure their gun in their rooms but are allowed to have their gun on them in the study room, lobby and lounge, game room and T.V. room.
CTC has two permanent gun-free locations and several temporary gun-free locations. All locations used for early childhood education, daycare, Pre-K-12 school learning or activities and all areas and CTCD events predominantly visited by minor children are gun-free zones, as are all CTCD Mental Health care service locations, including individual and group sessions.
Other gun-free locations include areas for all sporting or interscholastic events; polling locations; locations where the Board of Trustees are meeting; all Independent School District locations; the Mayborn Science Theater during events for minors; locations used to discuss discipline with a student or employee or hear grievances; locations where dangerous materials or chemicals are stored or used, such as laboratories, power plants, etc.; areas containing critical college infrastructure; CTCD owned, rented or leased vehicles when used to transport only minors or for transportation for sporting or interscholastic events; and any locations where the carrying of handguns is proscribed by Texas or federal law.
During the presentation, Wheeler also listed a gun-free location as that of a sole-occupant office at the occupant’s discretion, so long as the occupant posts a sign or gives verbal notice that their office is a gun-free zone. When faculty members asked questions about how a LTC holder could follow the sole-occupant exception, Wheeler explained that it would likely be left up to the department heads. If all professors or faculty members choose to make their office a gun-free zone, however, that could interfere in their ability to meet with their students or fellow CTC faculty and staff, Wheeler said. She added that she could see this part of the policy going away so as not to interfere with the college doing business with its students.
Wheeler said she also shared the policy with incoming students at the New Student Orientation held on August 4.
Compared to last year, when campus carry was implemented on four-year campuses, the response from students has improved.
“I think they’re understanding it more,” Wheeler said. “They seem to be more at ease.”
Wheeler explained that she told the new students at last week’s orientation to attend class as normal and not focus on whether their classmate had a handgun or not.
“It shouldn’t even come to your mind,” Wheeler said. “When I go to Walmart, I don’t think about people carrying a concealed weapon anymore.”
Wheeler said the feedback to the new policy so far has been positive but last year, students were worried and said they didn’t want to be in the same class as someone carrying. Wheeler was adamant that students should feel safe and want to be near someone who is licensed to conceal carry because that LTC holder might save their life in an active shooter situation.
“If nobody here on campus had a gun and you were in that classroom like Virginia Tech, and a shooter came down the hallway and opened the door to your classroom and shot everybody in your classroom, you would be wishing someone in there had a concealed carry license,” Wheeler said.
Wheeler added that the people who would now be allowed to carry their handgun on campus are not criminals or thugs.
“These are your good, outstanding citizens that lawfully obtained a license to carry their weapon,” she said.