Community colleges ready for campus carry

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When Texas’ four-year universities were forced to accept campus carry a year ago, large protests were staged by students unhappy with the idea of more weapons on campus. With a state mandate to allow guns on campuses, the protests had little effect. In the year since the law took effect, though, few ill effects have been reported.

Brazoria County’s community colleges are unlikely to see rallies today when two-year colleges fall under the campus-carry requirement, with both Alvin Community College and Brazosport College preparing for the day by engaging students and faculty well ahead of time.

“Over the course of several campus forums, we have fielded questions from students and staff regarding the law,” Alvin Community College President Christal M. Albrecht said in an emailed response. “The feedback has been mostly neutral. Many of the questions were focused on which areas of the campus would still not allow weapons.”

People are still banned from carrying their concealed handguns to ACC sporting events. Other areas where concealed carry isn’t allowed will have signs posted citing section 30.06 of the Texas Penal Code stating people with concealed handguns cannot enter the property, according to the college’s website.

Brazosport College had meetings last year to inform attendees of the law change and get a consensus on how the college should approach it.

“They also had an opportunity to respond to a survey and also to comment on Brazosport College’s campus carry rules as they were being drafted. The feedback was broad and far-ranging,” Vice President of Human Resources Marshall Campbell said in an email. “While some faculty, staff and students voiced concern about the possibility of an increase of guns on campus, others commented that they are comfortable with the law.”

Campbell oversees the newly developed Brazosport College Police Department, which had been in the works before the new law and became official last August.

Both campuses are doing what they can to educate new students through orientations and posting signage.

“Brazosport College’s Police Department has presented on the campus carry law and the college’s rules related to the law at its New Student Orientation sessions,” Campbell said. “It will also present to faculty and staff at the college’s meetings for the new academic year. The college’s campus carry rules are published on the police department’s website. The department is also adjusting signage on campus to comply with the new law and the college’s rules.”

Aside from hosting several forums, ACC is enforcing a few other changes.

“We have completed a procedural process that outlines which areas will remain weapon-free, and we have posted signs on campus stating where weapons are not allowed,” Albrecht said. “In order to keep our students safe, we are also planning to expand our police presence by upgrading two part-time positions to full-time.”

The law applies to licensed gunholders who carry a concealed handgun, according to the Texas Department of Public Safety’s website. This is one detail Brazosport College officials are stressing to campus-goers.

“Therefore, the faculty, staff and students are instructed to contact the college’s Police Department if someone has a gun that is not concealed,” Campbell said.

Ultimately, campus officials want staff and students to know they are taking everyone’s safety seriously.

“The most effective learning environment is a safe environment,” Albrecht said. “Campus security is among our top concerns and we feel that we are well prepared for when the law takes effect.”

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