UT Austin Campus Carry Policies

In addition to agreeing with the Campus Carry Policy Working Group’s recommendation that banning handguns from classrooms would have the effect of generally prohibiting handguns on campus, and thus violate state law, University of Texas President Gregory L. Fenves also adopted all of the Working Group’s recommended policies regarding campus carry.  The policies President Fenves adopted from the Working Group (with my personal commentary and explanation) are as follows:

  1. License holders who carry a handgun on campus must carry it on or about their person at all times or secure their handgun in a locked, privately-owned or leased motor vehicle. The only exception to this is that license holders who reside in University Apartments or who are staff whose employment responsibilities require them to reside in University housing may store their handguns in a gun safe in accordance with the requirements set forth in Policy Statement no. 17.  In compliance with Texas Penal Code § 46.035(a-1), a license holder may not carry a partially or wholly visible handgun on campus.
    • The likely purpose behind this policy is to decrease the risk of anyone other than the license holder gaining access to the license holder’s handgun.
    • This policy also restates applicable campus carry law prohibiting the open carry of handguns on campus
    • UT has defined “on or about their person” as meaning that the handgun must be close enough to the license holder that he/she can grasp it without materially changing position
  1. A license holder who carries a handgun on campus must carry it in a holster that completely covers the trigger and the entire trigger guard area. The holster must have sufficient tension or grip on the handgun to retain it in the holster even when subjected to unexpected jostling.
    • The stated purpose behind this policy is to reduce the possibility of accidental discharge.
  1. A license holder who carries a semiautomatic handgun on campus must carry it without a chambered round of ammunition.
    • The stated purpose behind this policy is to reduce the possibility of accidental discharge.
  1. In its website posting of rules and regulations regarding campus carry, the University should post a list of
 places that are commonly the site of pre-K-12 school- sponsored activities. When a pre-K-12 school-sponsored activity is being conducted at a particular location, a sign reading “Pre-K-12 school-sponsored activity in progress” should be posted there.
    • This is an extension of the statutory prohibition against firearms in schools (other than institutions of higher learning) pursuant to Texas Penal Code § 46.03.
    • Although notice pursuant Texas Penal Code § 30.06 is not required by law for pre-K – 12 school sponsored activities, I would still provide § 30.06 notice in addition to the notice described in this policy for the sake of covering my bases.
  1. Texas Penal Code §46.03(a)(2) excludes license holders of handguns from carrying a handgun on premises 
of a polling place on the day of an election or while
early voting is in progress. A sign should be posted
at any polling place located on campus from the commencement of early voting through Election Day that reads either “Polling Place” or “Vote Here.”
    • This is another extension of the statutory prohibition against firearms in certain places under Texas Penal Code § 46.03.
    • I would still recommend notice pursuant to § 30.06 as well, even if it is not required by statute.
  1. Texas Penal Code §46.03(a)(3) excludes license holders of handguns from carrying a handgun on the premises of any government court or offices utilized by the 
court, unless pursuant to written regulations or written authorization of the court. A sign should be posted at the entrance to a courtroom and associated offices whenever they are being used by a federal, state, or local judge for official business.
    • This is another extension of the statutory prohibition against firearms in certain places under Texas Penal Code § 46.03.
    • I would still recommend notice pursuant to § 30.06 as well, even if it is not required by statute.
  1. Texas Penal Code §46.035(b)(1) excludes license holders of handguns from carrying a handgun in the premise of a business that has a permit or license issued under designated chapters of the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code, if the business derives 51 percent or more of its income from the sale or service of alcoholic beverages for on-premises consumption. Any premises on campus that meets the requirements of TPC §46.035(b)(1) must provide notice in accordance with Texas Gov’t Code §411.204.
    • This is an extension of the statutory prohibition against handguns being carried in places that derive 51% or more of their income from the sale of alcohol for on-premises consumption and the statutory requirement to post notice that carrying a handgun is prohibited in these places pursuant to Texas Gov’t Code § 411.204.
  1. Texas Penal Code §46.035(b)(2) excludes license holders of handguns from carrying a handgun where
a high school, collegiate, or professional sporting
event or interscholastic event is taking place, unless the license holder is a participant in the event and a handgun is used in the event. Notice should be given for all collegiate sporting events. If possible, for ticketed sporting events this notice should be given by means of a written communication on the back of, or appended to, the ticket. Vendors and others who are permitted to enter the premises without a ticket should be provided written notice through other means.
    • This policy states that UT intends to provide proper notice (pursuant to Texas Penal Code § 30.06 and § 46.035) to license holders that handguns will be excluded from all collegiate sporting events.
    • This policy also contemplates non-collegiate sporting events that may be held at university facilities (such games for tournament or club teams), and recommends providing proper § 30.06 notice on all tickets printed for those events. Although allowed by law, I question the effectiveness of this method of notice in that I suspect that many ticket purchasers will not closely examine their tickets, and thus overlook notice printed on their tickets.
  1. The concealed carry of handguns should be prohibited in areas for which state or federal law, licensing requirements, or contracts require exclusion exclusively at the discretion of the state or federal government, or are required by a campus accrediting authority. Where appropriate, signage must conform to the overriding federal or state law requirements. Otherwise, notice conforming to Texas Penal Code §30.06 must be provided.
    • This merely states that handguns should be prohibited in any areas on campus where they would otherwise be prohibited by applicable state and federal law, and that any notice given should conform with that law.
  1. The concealed carry of handguns should be prohibited in patient-care areas, including those in which professional mental health services are provided.
    • This is a logical extension of statutory prohibitions against handguns in hospitals and nursing homes pursuant to Texas Penal Code § 46.035.
  1. The concealed carry of handguns should be prohibited on premises in which a ticketed sporting event is taking place.
    • This policy reiterates the views expressed in Policy no. 8.
  1. The concealed carry of handguns should be prohibited in areas in which formal hearings are being conducted pursuant to Chapter 11 (Student Discipline and Conduct) of the Institutional Rules on Student Services and Activities (General Information Catalog, App. C); Regents Rule 31008 (Termination of a Faculty Member); Handbook of Operating Procedure 2-2310 (Faculty Grievance Procedure); or Handbook of Operating Procedure 5-2420 (Policies and Procedures for Discipline and Dismissal and Grievance of Employees).
    • UT argues that the hearings contemplated in this policy concern the adjudication of rights and privileges in much the same way that rights and privileges are adjudicated in governmental court systems. With this comparison in mind, the university believes that handguns should be prohibited at these hearings just as handguns are statutorily prohibited in courtrooms and offices used by the courts (Texas Penal Code § 46.03).
    • The university will include notice and information on the prohibition of handguns in formal hearing notices, appropriate informational materials, and websites.
  1. The concealed carry of handguns should be prohibited in areas where the discharge of a rearm might cause great harm, such as laboratories with extremely dangerous chemicals, biologic agents, or explosive agents, and areas with equipment that is incompatible with metallic objects, such as magnetic resonance imaging machines.
    • This policy makes sense for practical safety reasons.
    • The university will provide the required notice along with information in appropriate materials and websites.
  1. The concealed carry of handguns should be prohibited in animal-research facilities and other animal-care and animal-use locations in which protocols regulating ingress and egress create a risk that a concealed handgun will accidentally discharge, be contaminated, or be separated from a license holder.
    • Because animal-research facilities and other animal-care and animal-use locations frequently have strict protocols for ingress and egress, including proper clothing and other protective measures, the prohibition of handguns in these facilities makes sense as a practical matter.
  1. Counselors, staff, and volunteers who work in a campus program for minors must, as a condition of their participation, agree not to carry a concealed handgun on the grounds or in buildings where the program is conducted. Parents of attendees must also agree, as
a condition of their child’s participation, not to carry
a concealed handgun on the grounds or in buildings where the program is conducted. “Campus program for minors” is defined in HOP 3-1710.
    • Participants in such programs are free to enter into agreements prohibiting the carrying of handguns in areas where these programs are being conducted as a condition of participation.
    • This seems like a logical extension of the statutory prohibition against handguns in schools (other than institutions of higher education) pursuant to Texas Penal Code § 46.03.
  1. The following rules should apply to the concealed carry of handguns in University housing.

(a) With three exceptions, the concealed carry of handguns should be prohibited in all on-campus residence halls. The concealed carry of handguns should, however, be permitted in University Apartments.

(b) The first exception for on-campus residence halls 
is that the concealed carry of handguns should be permitted in common areas such as lounges, dining areas, and study areas. The second exception is that a resident’s family members should be permitted to carry a concealed handgun on or about their person while visiting. The third exception is that staff members whose employment responsibilities require them to be in University housing should be permitted to carry a concealed handgun on or about their person while present in University housing for business purposes.

(c) License holders who reside in University Apartments or who are staff whose employment responsibilities require them to reside in University housing must store their handguns either in a locked, privately- owned or leased motor vehicle or in a gun safe that meets the requirements set forth in Policy Statement No. 17. License holders are also responsible for ensuring that their guests comply with all such rules and regulations.

  • UT uses the fact that “an overwhelming majority of students reside in off-campus facilities, especially those who are at least 21 years old, the minimum age for a person to obtain a license to carry” to justify prohibiting handguns from being kept by students living in on-campus residence halls. UT further justifies this policy by arguing that the characteristic of shared bedrooms in on-campus residence halls presents special dangers of accidental loss, theft, or misuse of handguns by roommates or other residents.
  • Texas Attorney General Opinion KP-0051 states that prohibitions against handguns in the university’s residential facilities would effectively prohibit license holders in those facilities from carrying handguns in campus, in violation of campus carry laws. Although only 313 UT students aged 21 or over lived in university residence halls during the Fall 2015 semester, I agree with the Attorney General Opinion that this regulation has the effect of prohibiting handguns on campus for those students eligible to obtain a handgun license who happen to live in on-campus residence halls.  However, an attorney general opinion is merely that – an opinion – and does not constitute enforceable law.
  1. A gun safe that is used by a license holder must:

(a) be large enough to fully contain all rearms placed in it and provide for secure storage;

(b) have exterior walls constructed of a minimum 16-gauge steel;

(c) have a high-strength locking system consisting of a mechanical or electronic combination or biometric lock, and not a key lock;

(d) be physically secured inside the license holder’s residence in a manner that conforms to Division of Housing and Food Service policy.

  • This policy is designed to promote the secure storage of unattended handguns in University Apartments.
  1. The occupant of an o ce to which the occupant has been solely assigned and that is not generally open
to the public should be permitted, at the occupant’s discretion, to prohibit the concealed carry of a handgun in that office. An occupant who chooses to exercise this discretion must provide oral notice that the concealed carry of a handgun in the occupant’s office is prohibited. In addition, if the occupant’s duties ordinarily entail meeting people who may be license holders, the occupant must make reasonable arrangements to meet them in another location at a convenient time.
    • UT cites that, traditionally, the occupant that has been solely assigned to an office has substantial control over his/her space. Case law echoes this sentiment, with US Supreme Court opinions stating that a personal office is a space in which a person has a reasonable, and therefore constitutionally protected, expectation of privacy.
    • Although Texas Penal Code § 30.06 permits oral notice that handguns are prohibited in certain areas, I question the effectiveness of providing oral notice to all visitors and potential visitors to each office in which the occupant wishes to prohibit handguns.
  1. The University should amend Sec. 11-404(a) (Student Discipline and Conduct – General Misconduct) of the Institutional Rules on Student Services and Activities (General Information Catalog, App. C); Handbook
of Operating Procedure 5-2420(III)(B) (Policies and Procedures for Discipline and Dismissal and Grievance of Employees – Conduct Which is Subject to Disciplinary Action); and Handbook of Operating Procedure 8-1010(I) (B) (Prohibition of Campus Violence) to provide that causing the accidental discharge of a rearm is conduct subject to disciplinary action.
    • UT’s stated purpose behind this policy is that anyone who causes an accidental discharge of a handgun may be subject to university discipline. I suspect this policy is also to discourage behavior and activities that may result in accidental discharge.
  1. The Division of Housing and Food Service should include in its housing contracts that violation of any University rules regarding the carrying or storage of rearms
in University housing is grounds for terminating the housing contract.
    • This is no different from the violation of other contractual provisions, which may also be grounds for termination.
  1. Exclusion zones created by TPC §§46.03 and 46.035 as well as by the rules and regulations enacted under S.B. 11 may sometimes comprise only a portion of a building. In some instances it may not be feasible to exclude concealed handguns only from the designated exclusion zones. The following factors and principles should govern the implementation of these rules and regulations in those buildings in which some, but not all parts are designated as exclusion zones.

 

Governing factors:

  • The percentage of assignable space or rooms in a building that are designated as exclusion zones.
  • The extent to which the area (or areas) designated as exclusion zones are segregable from other areas of the building.
  • The extent to which use of the building, and hence its status as an exclusion zone, varies from day-to- day or week-to-week. 
Governing principles:
  • If a small number of rooms or a small fraction
of assignable space in a building is subject to exclusion, only the rooms or areas that qualify
for exclusion should be excluded. Appropriate signage needs to be posted for rooms or areas that are excluded.
  • If a significant fraction of the total building in terms of number of rooms or assignable space is subject to exclusion, or if the excludable space
is not segregable from other space, then as a matter of practicality, the whole building should be excluded. Appropriate signage needs to be posted for any such building.

Nothing in these guidelines for determining handgun exclusions zones appears unreasonable or in violation of applicable law.

  1. The University should develop training materials particular to UT Austin on how to respond to an active shooter situation. These should be incorporated in the CW 122: A Safe Workplace training module, and all faculty and staff should be required to complete this module. All students should also be required
to complete training on how to respond to an active shooter situation.
    • This policy was established in response to the prevalence of gun violence occurring in schools and on college campuses at an “alarming frequency,” and is designed to provide students, faculty, and staff with training on how to respond to an active shooter situation.
    • The university will work with the UT Police Department and other agencies to develop appropriate training materials and procedures.
    • All faculty members, staff, and students may be required to complete this training.
  1. The University should develop and post in a prominent place a detailed Campus Carry FAQ.
    • This policy is a response to the widespread misunderstanding of the campus carry laws, particularly the misconception that the new campus carry laws will permit open carry on campus.
    • “Detailed, comprehensive, and accurate information is important for those in the university community to understand the law and how it affects daily activities on campus.”
  1. The University should develop materials to educate and inform parents of UT students and prospective students about campus carry and how it is being implemented.
    • The purpose of this policy is to provide parents and prospective students with information about campus carry and hot it is being implemented at UT.
  1. To the extent possible, office space within gun-exclusion zones should be made available on a scheduled basis
to faculty and staff who do not have offices to which they are solely assigned. These spaces can be used
for conferences that faculty or staff would prefer to conduct in a gun-exclusion zone.
    • I believe this is a reasonable policy to help accommodate those who feel extremely uncomfortable with the idea of holding meetings in which a concealed handgun might be present.

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