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Panhandle Colleges Implement “Campus Carry”

Community colleges appear set for the August 1 deadline to implement the law, passed in 2015, requiring institutions to allow licensed carriers of concealed firearms to bring their weapons into campus buildings.

Since each college is unique in terms of its logistical situation and local culture, media coverage around the state focusing on this issue has been posted here often, allowing schools to see what other colleges are doing to get ready for August 1.

The Lubbock Avalanche-Journal, in a report by Karen Michael, explores the policies of two Panhandle community colleges, South Plains College and Amarillo College. Please read the article for details. The principle challenge for educators in implementing the law involves so-called gun-free zones, which are permitted, up to a point, under the statute.

Below are passages from the LAJ article, with particular emphasis on the gun-free zones created at each school.

At South Plains College:

At South Plains College, President Robin Satterwhite said he put together a task force to gather input from faculty, staff, administrators and students.

The process of getting input from all of those parties went smoothly, he said, and SPC will comply with the state law in August.

“We’ll be in compliance with Texas statutes,” Satterwhite said. He said SPC wants to promote a safe campus and to be in compliance with state laws.

While licensed, concealed carry will be allowed on campus, there will be no open carry of weapons, Satterwhite said.

Only law enforcement officials will be able to ask if someone is carrying a weapon, he said.

Some areas that will be off-limits for those carrying guns. Exclusion areas at SPC will include the dome or track during high school or collegiate sporting events, buildings where UIL-sanctioned competitions are being held, meetings of the board of regents, conduct hearings, polling locations, any area where official government or judicial proceedings are being held and the natatorium.

Campus carry information is available on South Plains College’s website at https://myspc.southplainscollege.edu/ICS/Safety_and_Health/Campus_Carry.jnz.

At Amarillo College:

Meanwhile, at the Amarillo College, Wes Condray-Wright, director of communications and marketing, said that college is also preparing to follow state laws in allowing campus carry on Aug. 1.

“We’re just going to follow the letter of the law at Amarillo College,” Condray-Wright said.

Like SPC, Amarillo College will have some exclusion areas, including the Museum of Art, where children are frequently present, and two daycare centers on the Amarillo College campuses.

Condray-Wright said there was no contention or protests over the decision to follow the state law, but he said that because it is not a residential campus, certain parts of the bill regarding guns in dorms just weren’t applicable.