Smatresk, police explore campus carry options

Smatresk, police explore campus carry options

Smatresk, police explore campus carry options
June 06
16:27 2015

Update Saturday, June 6

Dalton LaFerney | News Editor

UNT President Neal Smatresk expressed his disapproval of the campus carry law passed by the 84th Texas Legislature just before the session ended, and said the university is exploring its options for implementation.

Smatresk said UNT Police will advise him and other administrators on how to handle the new law, and will determine enactment costs and how to store weapons in residence halls.

The law grants university presidents authority to determine certain gun-free zones about campus, such as in labs or other areas deemed high-risk,  as well as autonomy in governing storage policies in residences halls. Senate Bill 11, the campus carry legislation, does not allocate funding to universities to enact policies or explore certain options.

“It’s another unfunded mandate,” Smatresk said, adding that he will consult with presidents from universities around the state to configure a plan.

Smatresk will look to the leadership of University of Texas System Chancellor William McRaven. McRaven, former commander of U.S. Special Operations forces, has been a prominent opponent to campus carry policies.

“I will always defer to a person with his level of experience,” Smatresk said.

The university will first seek clarity on SB 11 before policies are enacted, and said UNT is in the process of discovery the specifics of the bill’s language.

The bill prohibits licensed concealed handgun owners from carrying on the premises of daycares and other lower-level schools that are located on a higher education campus. Clinics and hospitals located on colleges campus are also excluded from SB 11’s rules, as well as at sporting events.

SB 11 goes into effect August 2016. Universities have until then to determine their respective policies. Smatresk said there will be open forums for faculty, staff and students to participate in shaping UNT’s campus carry policy.

Sunday: Campus carry bill goes to Abbott

Dalton LaFerney / News Editor

Campus carry is now in the hands of Republican Gov. Greg Abbott, as the Texas House on Sunday gave final passage to Senate Bill 11, 98-47, a day after the Senate approved it 20-11.

SB 11, which expands the rights were licensed owners are to carry concealed handguns on college campuses, would go into effect on Aug. 1, 2016 — 2017 for community colleges — allowing public university presidents to enact gun-free zones.

A coalition of student governments across the state petitioned the legislature to strike down SB 11 with a letter led by the SGA at the University of Texas at Austin. SGA president-elect Adam Alattry and vice president-elect Chris Lee were among the student leaders to sign the letter, which included 10 Texas institutions.

Gun rights laws have been a priority among conservative lawmakers. Abbott has made clear he will sign any such bill into law. The legislation was opposed to universities across Texas. (Go here to see who authored it, and here to read the bill itself.)

Elementary and secondary schools that are located on college campuses are exempt from the law, as are hospitals. Private universities may opt out of the law. SB 11 does not allocate funding for implementation.

Earlier: House gives final approval on campus carry bill

Dalton LaFerney / News Editor

The Texas House gave preliminary approval to legislation Tuesday night that would extend the rights licensed concealed handgun owners have on college campuses, overcoming stall tactics by House Democrats who largely oppose more conservative measures that were slated on the midnight legislative deadline that would have killed the bill.

Senate Bill 11 came to the House floor about 9:30 p.m., flirting with the midnight deadline. It was debated for about two hours before 101-47 passage. State Rep. Myra Crownover (R-Denton), who debated one amendment, voted in favor of the bill.

A final vote is expected as early as Wednesday.

There had been a motion earlier in the day to shuffle the calendar in order to move high-priority bills to the floor sooner, as the deadline loomed. But Republicans failed to garner enough support to change the calendar, as Democrats rallied to prevent the two-thirds vote needed for the schedule change.

Democrats in the House relied on a delay tactic known as “chubbing” in order to slow parliamentary procedure with long, more extensive debate aimed at preventing a vote on certain bills.

There had been more than 100 amendments, surely capable of killing the bill. But, during a lengthy point of order, a Democratic caucus gathered and retracted the amendments before Speaker Joe Straus called the bill to vote.

At about the same time, over in the Senate, lawmakers scrapped a bill that would support the religious grounds of child agencies — shielding them from lawsuits — if they block gays and same-sex couples from adopting children.

The Senate passed SB 11 on March 19 and Republican Gov. Greg Abbott has said he will sign any bill if it reaches his desk. If the bill gains final approval from the House, negotiations will begin with the Senate, where it is uncertain if key House provisions will survive before reaching the governor’s desk by the June 1 deadline.

Texas would not be the first state to pass such legislation, but Texas’ law would be the first to make campus carry a right defined by state law. Second Amendment concerns have become prominent legislative issues among conservatives, including Abbott, who signaled those issues would be top priorities for the statehouse this session.

SB 11 amends state law, extending where Texans may carry handguns on campus. Already, those with a concealed handgun license may carry on campuses, but only in public areas — such as quads — but not into facilities.

SB 11 allows for the concealed carry in classrooms, but an amendment does grant institutions greater autonomy. The amendment, one of the few that made it to the floor, allows boards of regents — after consulting students, faculty and staff — a two-thirds vote in deciding the boundaries of concealed carry on each respective campus. For example, universities may prohibit weapons in labs.

All public colleges and universities would be subject to the new law, but private institutions may vote to opt out of campus carry. Additionally, all institutions — private and public — have authority to govern storage policies on campus, such as rules for storage at residence halls. Under SB 11, people may not carry handguns at collegiate sporting events.

Hospitals and schools that are located on campus are exempt from campus carry; it’s still illegal for handguns to be carried on those premises. An amendment demands that medical centers and other medical education facilities be exempt from campus carry legislation, too.

A coalition of student governments across the state petitioned the legislature to strike down SB 11 with a letter led by the SGA at the University of Texas at Austin. SGA president-elect Adam Alattry and vice president-elect Chris Lee were among the student leaders to sign the letter, which included 10 Texas institutions.

Educators from around the state have decried the potential dangers of campus carry. Among them, University of Texas System Chancellor William McRaven, who, in a January letter wrote to the legislature that campuses would be more unsafe with increased presence of fire arms.

Other big-ticket items that were scheduled to be brought to the floor included a measure that would prevent abortion care for those covered by the Affordable Healthcare Act, and SB 19, an ethics reform bill that eventually passed after hours of debate.

Featured Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

About Author

Dalton LaFerney

Dalton LaFerney

Dalton is the editor of the Daily.

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