About Open Carry
Since 1995, handgun license holders in Texas have been able to carry a handgun as long as the handgun is concealed. Effective January 1, 2016, handgun license holders may lawfully carry their handguns in an open manner throughout the state of Texas as long as the handgun is secured in a shoulder or belt holster. A license holder also has the option of carrying a handgun in a concealed manner; however, the law does not permit concealed handgun carry on college campuses like TSC until August 2017.
Notwithstanding the ability to openly carry, the law on this subject remains relatively the same; specifically, it is still prohibited under the law to openly carry a handgun on any college campus and on any public or private driveway, street, sidewalk or walkway, parking lot, parking garage or other parking area of the college.
Be informed about Open Carry
TSC encourages all of our constituents to be informed and knowledgeable about the law and how it affects them. Below are frequently asked questions that may be helpful in understanding the recent legislation and the steps TSC is taking to comply.
Frequently Asked Questions
What does “Open Carry” mean?
Open Carry in Texas means you do not need to conceal your handgun as it is “open” for the public to see. Texas House Bill 910 – known as “open carry” – becomes law on January 1, 2016 and makes it legal for handgun license holders to carry visible handguns in the state of Texas. Open carry will not apply to institutions of higher education, including TSC.
Is “Open Carry” allowed on public college campuses?
No. Open carry will not apply to public colleges, including TSC. It is illegal to openly carry on campus, including displaying a firearm in campus buildings and now, on campus streets, sidewalks, parking lots and walkways. Therefore, there is no open carry on campus. The Texas Department of Public Safety, strictly states that open carry is restricted:
- on the premises of an institution of higher education or private or independent institution of higher education
- on any public or private driveway, street, sidewalk or walkway, parking lot, parking garage or other parking area of an institution of higher education or private or independent institution of higher education.
- by an individual who is acting as a personal protection officer under Chapter 1702, Occupations Code and is not wearing a uniform.
What is the difference between “Open Carry” and “Campus Carry”?
The “Open Carry” legislation provides that holders of a handgun license may now carry their handgun visibly in a waist belt holster or a shoulder holster but they may not openly carry on or in a college campus or building and they may not openly carry on any public or private driveway, street, sidewalk or walkway, parking lot, parking garage or other parking area of the college.
Prior to changes made in the 84th Legislature (2015) individuals, with certain exceptions, such as law enforcement personnel, were prohibited from carrying handguns inside any college building, even if the individual held a concealed handgun license. Texas Senate Bill 11 –known as “Campus Carry”- will permit handgun license holders to carry a concealed handgun on TSC campuses and into many TSC buildings. While the “Open Carry” legislation allows license holders, starting January 01, 2016, to openly carry their handguns in various locations in the State of Texas, the “Campus Carry” legislation only broadens the right for license holders to carry handguns in a concealed manner on college campuses. The Campus Carry law is not in effect for TSC until August 1, 2017 although TSC will be planning months ahead of that date to educate and inform the campus community, develop a campus carry policy, and address the safety and welfare concerns of our constituents.
What is TSC doing to inform the college community about legislation relating to Open Carry and Campus Carry?
The President has commissioned a committee representative of the college community and student body to assist in providing input to develop training and education about Open Carry as well as recommendations for policy relating to complying with Campus Carry. Between now and August 1, 2017, the effective date of Campus Carry, TSC is exploring specific rules, regulations and procedures related to campus carry to develop policies that could include items such as identifying potential gun-free zones, creating appropriate signage, determining if and where lock-boxes or storage units should be installed, and conducting community education and awareness programs.
What should I do if I see a handgun on campus and feel threatened?
If you see a visible handgun on campus, contact the campus security immediately at 956.295.3700.
What should I do if I see a classmate with a gun?
The law and TSC prohibit the visible display of handguns, and license holders should know that handguns they carry on campus, even if concealed, are currently prohibited. Contact campus security at 956.295.3700 if you have a concern.
How will TSC manage someone who has a firearm and is exhibiting threatening behavior?
It is a criminal act to exhibit threatening behavior with a firearm, regardless of the individual’s handgun license status. When a crime is committed on campus, campus security officers will respond and take appropriate law enforcement action. Penalties under the law for violating open carry laws may result in a Class A misdemeanor where a license holder receives notice (by oral or written communication) that openly carrying is prohibited and fails to depart the college campus.
Handgun Carry Fact sheet
What is the Open Carry law which will be effective January 1, 2016?
Texas House Bill 910- known as the “Open Carry” law- provides holders of a handgun license may now carry their handgun visibly in a waist belt holster or a shoulder holster, but they may not openly carry on or in a college campus or building and they may not openly carry on any public or private driveway, street, sidewalk or walkway, parking lot, parking garage or other parking area of the college.
Is the Campus Carry law the same as the Open Carry law?
No. Campus Carry and Open Carry are two (2) separate laws. Texas Senate Bill 11 –known as the “Campus Carry” law- will allow individuals who have a valid Texas handgun license to carry a concealed handgun in certain areas on college campuses
When does the Campus Carry law become effective
- August 1, 2016 – 4 Year Institutions
- August 1, 2017 – TSC and other 2 Year Institutions
About Campus Carry
During the 84th Texas Legislature, lawmakers passed a law we know as the “Campus Carry” Bill (Senate Bill 11). It allows licensed individuals to carry concealed handguns on academic campuses. The law will take effect on August 1, 2016 for all institutions of higher education except for community colleges. The effective date for TSC and community colleges across the state is August 1, 2017.
As we work toward compliance, it is helpful to consider that our implementation date in August 2017 affords us the opportunity to benefit from lessons learned from four-year colleges and universities that must comply with the law one year earlier than the community colleges. We will pay careful attention to the actions of those institutions regarding this matter, as they work towards compliance, while effectively gathering information and assessing our environment and compliance with the law