As of today, August 1st 2016, campus carry has gone into effect for four year universities. Here are the five things you need to know about campus carry in Texas to stay legal.
- Concealed carry is now legal; Open carry is not allowed!
Now with campus carry in effect, concealed carry by a “license to carry” holder (or other recognized out-of-state license) is allowed. With that said, both the “campus carry” and “open carry” bills created prohibitions on open carry on campus property. So while concealed carry is legal, it is important to remember that openly carried handguns are not allowed on property owned by a college campus. In summation, while on campus property, the handgun must remain concealed.
- Don’t violate the 30.06 signs!
When open carry went into effect in Texas, the bill reduced the penalty for 30.06/30.07 sign violations to a class C misdemeanor, punishable by up to a $200 fine, no jail time, and no impact on your license to carry. However, 30.06 sign violations on campus property are a class A misdemeanor; punishable by up to a year in county jail, up to a $4,000 fine, and a five-year revocation of your license to carry. So don’t take these signs lightly! If you see a 30.06 sign, take it back out to the car.
Additionally, private campuses are allowed to generally prohibit concealed carry on the campus, while public campuses cannot. So a private campus may have signs posted on every single building, or even at gated entrances into the campus; these signs would be valid. But what can you do if the private campus generally prohibits carry on the campus?
- You can always leave it in the car.
Even if a campus has 30.06 signage plastered on every square inch of the campus, including on the parking garage, you are still allowed to have a handgun in your vehicle according to the Texas Penal Code. While you are carrying in the vehicle, you are not carrying pursuant to a license, as even an unlicensed individual may carry a concealed handgun in their vehicle. Therefore, since you are not carrying pursuant to a carry license, signs that prohibit carry by a license holder (like a 30.06 sign) do not apply. This applies only in the realm of criminal law; in the civil law universe, if a private school has a “no carry” policy and you are caught carrying, they could definitely suspend you!
- Four year universities only!
Campus carry went into effect for four year universities today, August 1st, 2016. But for two-year or junior colleges, campus carry does not go into effect until August 1st, 2017. Regardless of the 2015 legislature’s reasoning behind such a decision, the simple fact remains that if you try to carry at a two-year college instead of a four-year college, you will be in legal hot water.
- Many campuses have released their carry policies, so review them carefully.
While keeping an eye out for 30.06 signs, campus-goers should review their school’s policy ahead of time to be prepared. An hour long ride on a city bus to get to the campus, that ends with finding out you need to store your handgun in a vehicle because of a 30.06 sign, is the last thing you need on the first day of class! Additionally, as discussed earlier, private campuses are allowed to generally prohibit carry on the campus; so carefully review your campus carry policies so you aren’t caught unaware.
If you can remember these five rules, you should be able to stay out of any carry-related legal problems while on campus. Keep in mind the legislature reviews the carry policies of public campuses at the end of every year. So, even if you disagree with the policies at your local campus, hold out until the end of the year, as the policies may get revoked. If they don’t, it may be time to vote for a new local representative!