Campus carry will take effect on community college campuses in Texas this coming Tuesday.
That means students and faculty will be allowed to carry a concealed handgun into college buildings unless they are visiting one of the school's exclusion zones. Signs will be in place to let everyone know when there is an area where concealed handguns are not allowed.
If those who carry are going into one of those zones, they will have to leave their gun in their car or at home because Austin Community College will not have storage lockers on campus.
“There are 318 signs going up in the next 3-4 days throughout the district and that's 12 different campuses,” said Chief of ACC District Police, Lynn Dixon.
At the ACC Highland campus staff began putting up signs and stickers Friday afternoon in preparation for the new law. “Tuesday morning the police are not going to do anything different we'll be out patrolling walking around probably answering a lot of questions I don't anticipate Tuesday being any different than Monday it's going to come and go and just going to be business as usual."
ACC faculty held several forums to get feedback from students about what areas on campus should and shouldn't be exempt from the concealed campus carry law.
“The law does not allow us to exclude the whole campus, so we had to really decide as a group what rooms and what areas will be excluded,” Dixon said.
ACC decided to exclude areas including, but not limited to, testing centers, polling locations, any area where pre-k through 12th grade students frequent, and laboratories where explosive chemicals may be used.
An ACC survey showed more than 42 percent of students strongly disagree with the new law, while only 24 percent strongly agree with it.
“I feel like in a society that values safety, we should be doing everything possible to make sure responsible citizens have the means to defend themselves everywhere they go, not just at home, not just in their car, but on campus as well,” said ACC student Mitchell O’Boyle.
“I didn't grow up around guns or anything and I don't personally believe that they have a use in college. They're completely separate ideas. I don't see why they need to be here,” said Jacky Mendoza, another ACC student.
“We've had people say, ‘I'll transfer. I'll quit. I won't work here anymore.’ To the other side saying, ‘It's a given right. It's a constitutional right. I need to be able to do it.’ So, there's some rational thought and some irrational thought and we centered on the rational thought,” Dixon said.
Although the law will allow those with a concealed carry permit to have a handgun inside community college buildings, openly carrying a gun anywhere on campus will still be illegal.
To be sure students understand the rules; ACC will show them a video on the first day of class with a detailed explanation.
Luckily, for community colleges, the campus carry law went into effect at four year public universities one year ago. “We took a lot from what the four years had given us. We didn't have to reinvent the wheel,” said Dixon.
ACC police are already being trained how to handle campus carry.
Officers will not arrest a concealed carry permit holder if their gun is exposed by accident, unless they are a repeat offender.