Campus Carry Information

The 84th Legislative Session, Senate Bill 11, Campus Carry law concerning concealed handguns was effective August 1, 2016 for universities and four year colleges. For South Texas College and other community colleges, the law is effective on August 1, 2017.

The 84th Legislative Session, House Bill 910, Open Carry law took effect in the state of Texas on January 1, 2016 and does not apply to university or college campuses, therefore the open carry of handguns is not allowed on college property.

The Campus Carry law requires that students, faculty, and staff be consulted concerning areas of the campus that may be designated as restricted gun free zones. To comply with the law, South Texas College has established a Campus Carry Task Force that will be conducting focus group sessions at each campus explaining the law, answering questions, and receiving your recommendations for the designation of restricted gun free zones. General email notifications will identify the campus location and time of these focus group sessions.

In addition to focus groups, the college has established this website that provides information on the law, as well as answers to frequently asked questions. A separate website has also been developed enabling you to provide recommendations on the location of restricted gun free zones, if you are unable to attend the campus forums, or prefer to submit your recommendations online.

Campus Carry Survey Watch Forum Intro

The Campus Carry Task Force will return to each campus and discuss the recommendations received from focus groups and the survey website. Following these sessions, the Task Force will submit recommendations to the College President for assessment. When completed, the President will submit recommendations to the Board of Trustees for a vote.

You may also contact the South Texas College Department of Public Safety (956-872-4444) with questions pertaining to the new law. 


Upcoming Forums

Nursing Allied Health
November 28, 2016
NAHC Rooms 101 & 102
Students: 12:00pm – 1:00pm
Employees: 1:00pm – 2:00pm

Mid Valley Campus
November 29, 2016
Building G Auditorium
Students: 12:00pm – 1:00pm
Employees: 4:00pm – 5:00pm

Pecan Campus
November 30, 2016
Building H, Room 216
Students: 12:00pm -1:00pm
Employees 4:00pm – 5:00pm

Starr County Campus
December 1, 2016
Building E Auditorium
Students: 2:00pm - 3:00pm
Employees 3:00pm – 4:00pm

Technology Campus
December 5, 2016
Building B Auditorium
Students: 10:00am – 11:00am
Employees: 11:00am – 12:00pm


Frequently Asked Questions

What is the current law for carrying handguns on campus?
Until August 1, 2017, a violation of the Texas Penal Code is committed if an individual intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly possesses or goes with a firearm, illegal knife, club, or prohibited weapon listed in Section Texas Penal Code Section 46.05(a):

(1)  on the physical premises of a school or educational institution, any grounds or building on which an activity sponsored by a school or educational institution is being conducted, or a passenger transportation vehicle of a school or educational institution.

What is the Campus Carry law?
The 84th Texas Legislative Session, Senate Bill 11, Campus Carry law, will allow persons with a state issued Concealed Handgun License (CHL) or License to Carry (LTC) to possess a concealed handgun at community colleges beginning on August 1, 2017, unless the area has been designated as a restricted, gun free zone by state law or the college president.

What is the Open Carry law?
The 84th Texas Legislative Session, House Bill 910, Open Carry law took effect on January 1, 2016, allowing license holders to carry an unconcealed handgun in a waist or shoulder holster, but the law does not apply to college campuses, therefore the open carry of handguns is not allowed on college property.

Will South Texas College faculty and staff be allowed to carry concealed weapons?
The 84th Texas Legislative Session, Senate Bill 11, Campus Carry law permits license holders, including South Texas College faculty and staff, to carry concealed handguns on campus beginning on August 1, 2017, unless the area has been designated as a restricted, gun free zone by state law or the college president.

What process will South Texas College use to develop restricted, gun free zones? 
South Texas College will conduct focus groups at each campus to explain the law and request input on the designation of restricted, gun free zones. A website has been developed that will allow students, faculty, and staff to recommend restricted gun free zones online.

Campus Carry Signage Example

How will South Texas College notify individuals of restricted, gun free zones?
The 84th Texas Legislative Session, Senate Bill 11, Campus Carry law requires that the college gives notice to license holders for each restricted, gun free zone. Notice is defined under Texas Penal Code Section 30.06 to include a sign that:

  1. Contains wording that states, "Pursuant to Section 30.06, Penal Code (trespass by holder of license to carry a concealed handgun), a person licensed under Subchapter H, Chapter 411, Government Code (concealed handgun law), may not enter this property with a concealed handgun."
  2. Is written in both English and Spanish;
  3. Is written with contrasting colors and with block letters at least one inch in height; and
  4. Is displayed in a conspicuous manner clearly visible to the public.

How can I obtain a Texas handgun license?
The Texas Department of Public Safety website provides information on applying for a handgun license:  https://www.txdps.state.tx.us/RSD/CHL/LicenseRegistration/applInstrInfo.htm

What does “concealed” mean?
“Concealed” means that the handgun is not visible. The handgun can be in a backpack, purse, holster underneath clothing, or in any other area in the immediate control of the license holder that is not in plain view of the public.

If I can see the outline of a gun through someone’s clothes, backpack, or purse, is that considered concealed?
As long as no part of the gun is showing (just the imprint), Texas law considers it concealed.

What if I see a gun that is not fully concealed or I suspect a person is carrying a gun illegally?
Contact the South Texas College Department of Public Safety (956-872-2589).

Will I be able to find out which students have a concealed gun in my class? 
Information about persons who are licensed to carry a concealed handgun is considered confidential. Consequently, South Texas College will not have a list of licensees. Individuals holding a license are not required to disclose their status. The only exception is if police ask about concealed carry status for law enforcement purposes. If questioned, license holders are required to inform the police that a handgun is being carried. If asked by someone other than a police officer, the license holder cannot be retaliated against for failure to answer the question.

Can a faculty or staff member post signage that prohibits handguns in their offices, classrooms, or other workspaces?
Other than the requirements of Texas state law, only the South Texas College President, with the approval of the Board of Trustees, can designate areas to be restricted, gun-free zones. Only the South Texas College Department of Public Safety is authorized post signage.

For more information concerning the Campus Carry law contact the South Texas College Department of Public Safety (956-872-2589).


Campus Carry Law

During the Texas 84th Legislative session, Senate Bill 11, known as the Campus Carry law was passed, permitting license holders to carry a concealed handgun on the campus of a university or college, effective August 1, 2017 for community colleges. Campus is defined as all land and buildings owned or leased by the college.

The Campus Carry law allows colleges and universities to establish reasonable rules and restricted gun free zones, based upon recommendations of students, faculty, and staff with consideration of the nature of the student body and the campus environment. The rules and restrictions may not generally prohibit or have the effect of generally prohibiting handgun license holders from carrying concealed handguns on campus. Within 90 days after the rules and restrictions are adopted, the College Board of Trustees will review the provisions and, if approved by at least two-thirds of the Board members, amend the provisions in whole or in part. The college is not permitted to prohibit handgun license holders from carrying concealed handguns beyond the rules and restrictions that are implemented.

The college is required to report to the Legislature by September 1 of each even numbered year, a description of the college’s rules and restrictions regarding the carrying of concealed handguns on campus by license holders and explain the reasons for those rules and restrictions.

Texas Penal Code Section 46.03 was modified by Senate Bill 11 to state the following regarding the carrying of concealed handguns on campus by license holders:

PLACES WEAPONS PROHIBITED.  (a)  A person commits an offense if the person intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly possesses or goes with a firearm, illegal knife, club, or prohibited weapon listed in Section 46.05(a):

  1. on the physical premises of a school or educational institution, any grounds or building on which an activity sponsored by a school or educational institution is being conducted, or a passenger transportation vehicle of a school or educational institution, whether the school or educational institution is public or private, unless:
    1. pursuant to written regulations or written of the institution; or
    2. the person possesses or goes with a concealed handgun that the person is licensed to carry under Subchapter H, Chapter 411, Government Code, and no other weapon to which this section applies, on the premises of an institution of higher education or private or independent institution of higher education, on any grounds or building on which an activity sponsored by the institution is being conducted, or in a passenger transportation vehicle of the institution.

Texas Penal Code Section 46.035 states the following:

(a-1)  Notwithstanding Subsection (a), a license holder commits an offense if the license holder carries a partially or wholly visible handgun, regardless of whether the handgun is holstered, on or about the license holder's person under the authority of Subchapter H, Chapter 411, Government Code, and intentionally displays the handgun in plain view of another person:

  1. on the premises of an institution of higher education or private or independent institution of higher education; or
  2. on any public or private driveway, street, sidewalk or walkway, parking lot, parking garage, or other parking area of an institution of higher education or private or independent institution of higher education.

Texas Attorney General Opinion

The Texas Attorney General provides opinions on the law when requested to do so by public officials. These Opinions are not case law, but give the requestor the legal perspective of the Attorney General regarding the intent of the law. The following Opinion pertains to Senate Bill 11 (Campus Carry):

Opinion No. KP-0051

Question - Authority of an institution of higher education to establish certain rules regarding the carrying of handguns on campus.

You ask six questions related to the authority of a public institution of higher education to establish certain rules regarding the carrying of handguns on campus.

Your questions arise from the Eighty-fourth Legislature's passage of Senate Bill 11, commonly referred to as the "campus carry" law, which will take effect August 1, 2016. S.B. 11 generally authorizes individuals licensed to carry concealed handguns to "carry a concealed handgun on or about the license holder's person while the license holder is on the campus of an institution of higher education. In addition, it authorizes the president or other chief executive officer of an institution of higher education to "establish reasonable rules, regulations, or other provisions regarding the carrying of concealed handguns by license holders" on campus. S.B. 11 also provides that "the president or officer may not establish provisions that generally prohibit or have the effect of generally prohibiting license holders from carrying concealed handguns on the campus of the institution."

Your first question asks whether an institution of higher education will violate the provisions of S.B. 11 if it "designates a meaningful number of classrooms as areas in which the possession of concealed handguns by Licensees is not allowed."  S.B. 11 does not expressly address the extent to which the carrying of concealed handguns can be regulated specifically within classrooms. The carrying of concealed handguns in certain types of classrooms may pose heightened safety concerns such that the regulation of concealed handguns is authorized under S.B. 11. As an example, some institutions of higher education have grade school classrooms. You note that the "authority granted to public colleges and private colleges are different," and you limit your request to "deal solely with public colleges. Given that the Legislature has made it a criminal offense to carry a firearm on the physical premises of such a school, rules regulating the carrying of concealed handguns in such grade school classrooms would be consistent with the Legislature's intent. See TEX. PENAL CODE § 46.03(a) (l). That said, attending or teaching class is the primary reason most individuals are on campus. If an institution prohibited. the carrying of concealed handguns in a substantial number of classrooms, a court would likely conclude that the effect would be to "generally prohibit" license holders from carrying concealed handguns on campus, contrary to the Legislature's express requirements.

Also related to regulation of handguns in the classrooms, your second question asks whether an institution of higher education will violate the provisions of S.B. 11 if it "allows individual professors to designate their classrooms as areas in which the possession of the concealed handguns by Licensees is not allowed." While the Legislature has required that faculty be consulted prior to establishing the rules, S.B. 11 places the authority to make rules regarding the carrying of concealed handguns on campus with the "president or other chief executive officer." Texas Gen. Laws at 1723 (to be codified at TEX. Govt. CODE § 411.2031 (d-1)). No provisions within S.B. 11 authorize a president or chief executive officer to delegate this authority to individual professors, and reading S.B. 11 as a whole suggests that the Legislature did not intend to allow such piecemeal regulation of handguns on campus. See TGSN OP EC Geophysical Co. v. Combs, 340 S.W.3d 432, 439 (Tex. 2011) (explaining that courts construe statutes as a whole rather than in isolation). Institutions of higher education are required to "widely distribute the rules to the institution's students, staff, and faculty, including by prominently publishing the provisions on the institution's Internet website." Texas Gen. Laws at 1723-74 (to be codified at TEX. Govt. CODE § 41 l.2031 (d-3)). Requiring that the rules be distributed to faculty suggests that the Legislature did not intend for the faculty members themselves to establish those rules. And, as a practical matter, if each faculty member could establish individualized rules, adequately publishing such rules and providing the notice required by S.B. 11 would be unmanageable. Thus, a court would likely conclude that S.B. 11 does not authorize a president or chief executive officer of an institution of higher education to delegate to 3 See Univ. of Texas at Austin, Campus Carry Policy Working Group Final Report, at 6, Dec. 2015, available at http://campuscarry.utexas.edu/CCWorkingGroup-FinalReport.pdf ("The primary on-campus activity for most of our more than 50,000 students is going to class. Excluding handguns from classrooms would have the effect of generally prohibiting license holders from carrying their handguns and so would violate S.B. 11."). S.B. 11 requires institutions of higher education to "give effective notice under Section 30.06, Penal Code, with respect to any portion of a premises on which license holders may not carry." Texas Gen. Laws at 1723 (to be codified at TEX. Govt. CODE § 411.203 l(d-l)). Penal Code section 46.035(a-3) also provides that notwithstanding subsection (a) or section 46.03(a), "a license holder commits an offense if the license holder intentionally carries a handgun" in a location on campus where the institution has by rule prohibited the carrying of concealed weapons, "provided the institution gives effective notice under Section 30.06 see TEX. PENAL CODE § 30.06(b) (providing that notice under section 30.06 may be "oral or written communication"), (c) (3) (B) (iii) (providing that a sign displayed on the property constitutes notice if it "is displayed in a conspicuous manner clearly visible to the public.

Your third question asks whether an institution of higher education would violate S.B. 11 if it prohibited or effectively prohibited the possession of handguns in "dormitories and/or other college-owned or leased residential housing." S.B. 11 expressly prohibits an institution of higher education from adopting any rule, regulation, or other provision prohibiting license holders from carrying handguns on campus, except in limited circumstances. Tex. Gen. Laws at 1723 (to be codified at TEX. Govt. CODE§ 41 l.2031(c)). One of those exceptions is found in subsection (d), which provides that "[a]n institution of higher education ... may establish rules, regulations, or other provisions concerning the storage of handguns in dormitories or other residential facilities ... located on the campus of the institution." Texas Gen. Laws at 1723 (to be codified at TEX. Govt. CODE § 411.2031 (d)). This provision allows an institution to establish reasonable requirements related to the location and manner in which handguns are stored within its residential facilities on campus. What is reasonable in any given circumstance will involve questions of fact. If an institution placed a prohibition on handguns in the institution's residential facilities, however, it would effectively prohibit license holders in those facilities from carrying concealed handguns on campus, in violation of S.B. 11. This is because "rules, regulations, or other provisions concerning the storage of handguns in dormitories" presupposes their presence in dormitories. Texas Gen. Laws at 1723 (to be codified at TEX. Govt. CODE § 41 l.203l(d)) (emphasis added); see BLACK'S LAW DICTIONARY (10th ed. 2014) (defining "storage" to mean "[t]he act of putting something away for ,future use; esp., the keeping or placing of articles in a place of safekeeping, such as a warehouse or depository").

Your fourth question asks whether an institution of higher education would violate S.B. 11 if it temporarily prohibited the carrying of handguns by license holders on either "all or most of the campus" or, alternatively, "on certain portions of the campus."  The distribution and notice requirements discussed above suggest that the Legislature did not intend to allow frequent, temporary restrictions on the carrying of concealed handguns. S.B. 11 does, however, allow a president or officer to "amend the provisions as necessary for campus safety," and to consider "specific safety considerations, and the uniqueness of the campus environment." Texas Gen. Laws at 1723 (to be codified at TEX. Govt. CODE§ 411.203 l (d-1)). Pursuant to this language, a court could conclude that occasional, reasonable temporary restrictions that are prominently posted on the institution's website clearly notify license holders of the restrictions, and do not amount to a general prohibition on the carrying of concealed handguns on campus.

Your fifth question asks whether a concealed handgun licensee has "standing to bring an action" if the licensee reasonably believes that the institution "has exceeded its authority or that it has taken regulatory action without meeting the procedural requirements" under S.B. 11. While sovereign immunity protects the state from lawsuits for money (See Campus Carry Policy Working Group Final Report, supra note 3, at 21 (establishing restrictions for gun safes used by license holders).  (See id. at 20-21 ("With three exceptions, the concealed carry of handguns should be prohibited in all on campus residence halls.")). The Honorable Brian Birdwell - Page 4 (KP-0051) damages, "suits to require state officials to comply with statutory or constitutional provisions are not prohibited by sovereign immunity." City of El Paso v. Heinrich, 284 S.W.3d 366, 372 (Tex. 2009). "Private parties may seek declaratory relief against state officials who allegedly act without legal or statutory authority." Tex. Nat. Res. Conservation Comm 'n v. IT-Davy, 74 S.W.3d 849, 855 (Tex. 2002). Thus, an individual whose legal rights have been infringed due to a president or chief executive officer of an institution adopting regulations that exceed the authority granted in S.B. 11 would have standing to bring an ultra vires cause of action against the president or chief executive officer. (See Heinrich, 284 S.W.3d at 372; see also TEX. C1v. PRAC. & REM. CODE § 37.004(b) (providing that an individual whose legal rights are affected by a statute "may have determined any question of construction" of tQ.at statute)). The remedy for such action would be limited to injunctive relief. See Heinrich, 284 S.W.3d at 376 ("[A] claimant who successfully proves an ultra vires claim is entitled to prospective injunctive relief.").

Your final question asks whether the offense found in subsection 46.035(a-3) of the Penal Code would apply to a licensee carrying a concealed handgun if an institution of higher education has failed to comply with S.B. 11. S.B. 11 amended section 46.035 of the Penal Code to add subsection (a-3), which will become effective August 1, 2016. Tex. Gen. Laws at 1726. At that time, subsection 46.035(a-3) will provide: Notwithstanding Subsection (a) or Section 46.03(a), a license holder commits an offense if the license holder intentionally carries a concealed handgun on a portion of a premises located on the campus of an institution of higher education in this state on which the carrying of a concealed handgun is prohibited by rules, regulations, or other provisions established under Section 411.2031 ( d-1 ), Government Code, provided the institution gives effective notice under Section 30.06 with respect to that portion (to be codified at TEXAS PENAL CODE § 46.035(a-3). If a court concludes that the rules established by an institution of higher education with regard to where concealed handguns may be carried are not authorized by statute, "it would follow that any further enforcement of such provisions would be ultra vires." Tex. Dept. of State Health Servs. v. Balquinta, 429 S.W.3d 726, 751 (Texas App.-Austin 2014, no pet). You do not ask whether institutions of higher education may establish policies regarding the manner in which license holders carry on campus, such as holster requirements or policies regarding the presence of a chambered round. See Campus Carry Policy Working Group Final Report, supra note 3 at 16 (preventing license holders from carrying a gun with a chambered round, requiring license holders to carry in a holster that completely covers the trigger and trigger guard area, and requiring sufficient tension on the handgun to retain it in the holster when subjected to unexpected jostling). Analyzing such restrictions would involve whether S.B. 11 delegated to public institutions of higher education the ability to restrict the manner in which license holders carry and whether state law restrictions on the manner of carrying preempts the field of such regulations. See, e.g., S. Crushed Concrete, L.L.C. v. City of Houston, 398 S.W.3d 676, 678 (Tex. 2013) (recognizing that state law may preempt local ordinances).

SUMMARY - A court would likely conclude that a public institution of higher education exceeds the authority granted under Senate Bill 11 if it prohibits the carrying of concealed handguns in a substantial number of classrooms or delegates to individual professors the decision as to whether possession of a concealed handgun is allowed in the individual professor's classroom. If a public institution of higher education placed a prohibition on handguns in the institution's campus residential facilities, it would effectively prohibit license holders in those facilities from carrying concealed handguns on campus, in violation of the express terms of Senate Bill 11. A court could conclude that occasional, reasonable, temporary restrictions that are prominently posted on the institution's website clearly notify license holders and do not amount to a general prohibition on the carrying of concealed handguns on campus. An individual whose legal rights have been infringed due to a president or chief executive officer of a public institution adopting regulations that exceed the authority granted in Senate Bill 11 would likely have standing to bring an ultra vires cause of action against the president or chief executive officer. If a court concludes that the rules established by an institution of higher education with regard to where concealed handguns may be carried are not authorized by statute, it would follow that any further enforcement of such provisions would be ultra vires.