Community college students and faculty are now allowed to carry a concealed gun on campus, joining Texas' four-year public universities in upholding the state's 2015 "campus carry" law.
The law permits licensed gun owners ages 21 and older to carry a concealed gun in most spaces on campus — including dorms, classrooms and cafeterias.
The state legislature passed the law in 2015, and it went into effect at four-year public universities in August 2016 (despite student protest — remember the #CocksNotGlocks campaign at UT
?). State officials gave two-year community colleges an extra year to prepare. According to Ross Laughead, general counsel for San Antonio's Alamo Colleges, those bonus months were needed.
"It took a considerable amount of my time to get to this point," said Laughead, who's led the rollout of the new regulations throughout Alamo Colleges' five campuses.
While campus carry is cemented state law, Texas officials have allowed universities to keep some areas of campus gun-free. Which, for Laughead, meant forming a committee of campus leaders to vote on which areas should be off-limits — like athletic facilities, the Scobee Planetarium and campus mental health counseling departments. Once those places were selected, Laughead had to order signs for every single door of a building or classroom that was gun-free (you can't enforce the gun-free rules without a sign). Laughead said there was no state requirement for the number of signs on a building — but knows that more signs mean a smaller chance that the Attorney General's office will get a call from a disgruntled gun owner.
Laughead's also had to update the student and staff handbooks, campus safety guidelines, and other various legal documents.
It's too soon to measure the impact the gun law has had on Texas' four-year universities, but many have speculated.
UT officials say the law has made it harder to recruit new students, but Texas A&M staff say the law's had “virtually no impact at all” on campus life.
The August 2016 rollout sparked protests across Texas campuses, including UT San Antonio. But at the Alamo Colleges, Laughead said it's a little quieter.
"The general attitude is, 'this is Texas,'" he said. "But we should consider whatever options we have to create protected areas."