Update – April 2, 2015

on April 2, 2015 in Weekly Update

Good Afternoon San Jacinto College Community –

Many of you may be aware that legislation has been filed in both the Texas House of Representatives (House) and the Texas Senate (Senate) that would authorize an individual possessing a valid concealed handgun license (CHL), issued in the state of Texas, to carry a concealed handgun on premises associated with certain public institutions of higher education. The bill would allow an institution of higher education to establish rules governing the storage of handguns in dormitories (please note that San Jacinto College does not have dormitories so this piece would not apply to San Jac), and would stipulate an institution, officer, employee, peace officer or handgun instructor may not be held liable for damages or cause under the provisions of the bill. The Senate bill is SB 11. It recently passed the Senate and has been sent to the House for consideration. The House version of the bill (HB 937) has now passed out of the committee favorably, and we are waiting to see how it will be referred for next steps but most likely will be placed on the House calendar for a vote on the floor.

Here are several key points regarding SB 11 that you need to know:

§ Licensed carriers would need to be at least 21 years old or have military experience, pay a fee, and submit to training.

§ Law enforcement officials have testified regarding their concern about responding to a chaotic situation in which it may be difficult to tell the “good guy” from the “bad guy” if guns are presented.

§ Another bill (SB 17) that would allow the “open carry” of firearms does not apply to colleges and universities, according to the official analysis of SB 11. The bill of primary concern to educators is known as “campus carry.”

§ Other bills have been introduced on the same (or similar) topic, but SB 11, is the bill most likely to pass and become law.

For any student that would like to provide an opinion on this issue, here are some resources for your information.

I know many of you have an opinion on this issue, so I want to make sure I provide you with factual information on this topic and information on how you can let your voice be heard. It is important for your elected officials to know your position, and it is important for you to exercise your right to vote in our election process.  I encourage you to participate in these ways.

Finally, although many bills have been proposed that could change the law in the future, I wish to convey the current state of the law with respect to the College and the State of Texas in regard to possessing and bringing weapons into any of the College’s property and facilities.

In the 83rd Legislature (the 2013 Legislative Session) the State Legislature passed a law allowing guns to be stored in a locked vehicle. Other than this one exception, it remains unlawful and a third degree felony to possess and bring a weapon onto any of the College’s facilities and property, and I direct each of you to comply with this prohibition.  Firearms, whether loaded or unloaded, may not be brought into college facilities or displayed to others.

If the law changes during this legislative session, then we will begin communications around what such changes mean for San Jacinto College, our students, our employees, and entire college community. Such communications would most likely include emails, social media blitzes, information sessions, etc., but will be dependent on the final version and requirements of any new laws.

I know there are many opinions around campus carry on both sides of this issue.  I believe that your opinions voiced directly to our elected officials will have a stronger impact than a College issued informational statement. That is why I am providing you information about this issue and asking that you let your voice be heard.

Best,

BH

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