Texas community colleges allow guns starting Tuesday


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EL PASO — A state law that allows licensed firearms owners to carry concealed handguns at institutions of higher learning extends to Texas community colleges starting Tuesday.

Texas Senate Bill 11, also known as the Campus Carry Law, allows licensed individuals to carry a concealed handgun on the grounds and in buildings of colleges and universities. The law went into effect for four-year universities in August 2016, but community colleges had an extra year to comply.

Private colleges and universities can opt out.

In the El Paso Community College system, which has 28,000 students, officials said they were prepared to follow the law while remaining vigilant for potential safety issues.

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“Whenever there is a new law, it’s our job to be vigilant, to make sure that, first of all, no one is breaking the law,” said El Capt. Joseph Barragan of the police. Paso Community College.

Handguns will now be permitted on all college and university campuses in the state for licensed carriers, but pistols must be carried under clothing or placed in a purse or bag that a person is carrying. Openly displaying a firearm, including in a noticeably visible holster, anywhere on campus will still be illegal, he said.

Individuals must be at least 21 years old to obtain a concealed carry license in Texas.

“It’s a bit concerning for us, but we’re just being proactive,” said Barragan, who provided additional active shooter training to his police force’s 40 officers. “We are ready to handle everything.”

Classes at El Paso Community College begin August 21, but campuses offer a range of activities throughout the year, including continuing education classes for youth, teens, and adults, and camps. summer.

Student Martin Renteria, 25, called the new law “stupid” and unnecessary.

“I understand that people need to feel safe, but the majority of people in college aren’t fully emotionally mature yet,” he said. I just think this is all a recipe for disaster.

Renteria, who attended classes at the community college’s Valle Verde campus for three semesters, said he had not experienced or seen any form of violence on campus to make him believe the campus portage law was necessary.

“I think it’s completely unnecessary and not the place for it,” he said.

Community colleges are permitted to have gun-free zones, including academic daycares, patient care facilities, science labs, intercollegiate sporting events, and assigned individual offices.

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Guns will also be banned from El Paso’s early high schools, a statewide program where high school students can earn both a high school diploma and an associate’s degree at the after four years.

Libraries can be turned into temporary weapon-free zones during children’s events, Barragan said. Hazardous chemicals housed in the health and science building at the community college’s Rio Grande campus will mark it as a permanent gun-free building.

Texas has about 1.15 million active firearms license holders, according to the Texas Department of Public Safety. Most applicants who received their license in the past fiscal year were between the ages of 43 and 61.

Follow Aileen B. Flores on Twitter: @AileenBFlores

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