Blinn College board approves policy regarding campus carry

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BRYAN, Tex. (KBTX)- The Blinn College Board of Trustees approved amendments regarding the campus carry law during its regular meeting Tuesday.

Senate Bill 11, also known as the “campus carry” law, was passed during the 84th Texas Legislature and allows concealed handgun license holders to carry concealed handguns at Texas higher education institutions. The law became effective for four-year public universities in August 2016, and will go into effect at Texas community colleges on August 1, 2017.

While concealed carry will become active on that date, the open carrying of firearms remains illegal at Texas public universities and community colleges.

Senate Bill 11 allows college presidents and CEOs to establish reasonable rules for restricted zones on campus while incorporating feedback from faculty, staff, students, and the community.

To assist in this task, Blinn established a 34-member Campus Carry Task Force representing administrators, faculty, staff, and students from the College’s four campuses. This task force presented Blinn District President/CEO Dr. Mary Hensley a 245-page report detailing its research and public input, and outlining its recommendations for campus carry guidelines at Blinn College.

“I would like to commend the Campus Carry Task Force for the countless hours of research and discussion that provided the foundation for Blinn’s campus carry policies,” Hensley said. “The Task Force’s efforts have helped to ensure that all Blinn College locations remain a safe environment for students, employees, and campus visitors.”

The Task Force designed its recommendations to allow campus carry unless specific extenuating circumstances required exceptions. Whenever possible, Blinn’s Task Force recommendations matched the policies established at Texas A&M University to prevent confusion for the significant number of students who co-enroll at both institutions.

Blinn’s amended policy prohibits concealed carry on the second floor of the Health Science Center Campus due to the presence of hands-on labs that require physical contact, as well as MRI and x-ray machines that pose a safety risk with the presence of firearms.

The policy also bans concealed carry at UIL-sponsored events and sporting events, where firearms are already banned by Texas Penal Code Subsection 46.035(b)(2).

Concealed carry will be banned during any grievance process, appeal proceeding involving a disinterested third-party committee gathering testimony from the involved parties, or the formal hearing portion of the total process, as detailed in Board policy and administrative regulations.

Signage in accordance with Texas Penal Code 30.06 will be posted clearly identifying locations where concealed carry is prohibited. All such signage will be posted by the Blinn College Police Department.

Blinn’s campus carry policy includes no specific firearms ban in:

· campus residential facilities, provided the student acquires a mandatory, approved storage device;

· single-occupant offices, though faculty members may follow an appeals process to seek exclusion;

· areas where minor children are present, based on Attorney General Ken Paxton’s Opinion KP-0120;

· classrooms that include dual credit students, although rules for off-campus sites will be applicable;

· the Star of the Republic Museum or the Dr. W.W. O’Donnell Performing Arts Center;

· campus health clinics or the Post Office Campus in Bryan;

· or in Blinn College vehicles.

In the coming months, the Campus Carry Task Force’s Communications Subcommittee will partner with the Blinn College Police Department to host a series of presentations describing Blinn’s campus carry policy and answering questions. These sessions will play an important role in continuing to familiarize students, employees, and campus visitors with Senate Bill 11 and the College’s campus carry policies.

For more information regarding campus carry at Blinn College, please visit www.blinn.edu/campus-carry.