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Open Carry vs. Concealed Carry on Campus

Last year the Texas Legislature passed two laws regarding the carrying of guns that have been the topic of much discussion on campus and in the media. Read about the difference between these two laws and their potential impact on campus.

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Associate Vice President for Campus Safety and Security Bob Harkins, EdD, sent the following message to the campus community on January 5, 2016. 

Last year the Texas Legislature passed two laws regarding the carrying of guns that have been the topic of much discussion on campus and in the media. The new laws regulate Concealed (Campus) Carry and Open Carry of handguns. It is important to clarify the difference between these two laws and their potential impact on campus.

The university takes these changes in law very seriously and is required to implement them as written. We remain committed to doing so while continuing to ensure safety on campus.

Open Carry: Handguns (effective January 1, 2016)

House Bill 910, the Open Carry law, allows people with concealed handgun licenses (CHLs) to openly carry a holstered handgun in Texas. However, this law expressly excludes institutions of higher education. This means open carry of handguns anywhere on campus is a violation of state law and is not permitted.

Concealed (Campus) Carry: Handguns (effective August 1, 2016)

President Gregory L. Fenves formed the Campus Carry Working Group to address the second new gun law — Senate Bill 11, which regulates Concealed Carry. This law allows CHL holders to carry a concealed handgun on public university campuses. The working group’s recommendations on implementing the law on campus can be found on the Campus Carry website. The president is reviewing those recommendations in order to develop campus-wide rules.

These new laws regarding handguns are not the only state statutes governing firearms on university campuses. Under pre-existing state law, long guns such as rifles are prohibited in university buildings, but they are legal for open display and carry on driveways, streets, sidewalks, parking lots, parking garages or other parking areas on campus (Penal Code section 46.035).

Many members of the university community are concerned about the safety of our campus in light of the changes in state law. Be assured that UTPD has always, and will always, respond to reports of an armed individual. Anytime you see a weapon on campus, you should call the police (9-1-1).