Stephen F. Austin State University

Frequently Asked Questions

Note: This is not intended to be a complete listing of all laws applicable to the carrying of handguns in the State of Texas. It is intended to highlight the provisions applicable to carrying a handgun on the SFA campus.

Frequently Asked Questions about Campus Carry

1. What is the university doing to prepare for campus concealed carry?
President Pattillo has established a campus carry committee to provide him recommendations on implementing S.B. 11. The committee is chaired by Dr. J. Keaton Grubbs, Professor of Business Law in the Nelson Rusche College of Business. The committee is comprised of students, faculty, and staff. The group includes representatives from the faculty senate, academic dean, university police, residence life, library services, safety office, Student Body President, and the various faculty. The university is also working with the following SFA offices to insure compliance with S.B. 11: President, General Counsel, University Affairs, Business and Finance, and Academic Affairs. The purpose of the committee is to gather input from faculty, students, and staff to make recommendations to President Pattillo so he can establish reasonable rules regarding the on campus carrying of concealed handguns by license holders.

S.B. 11 outlines the process universities must use to implement the new law. Presidents are required to consult with students, faculty, and staff before establishing "reasonable rules." President Pattillo assembled the campus carry committee to obtain input from these groups. After the president establishes his rules, they will be reviewed for legal sufficiency by the Office of General Counsel. They will then go to the Board of Regents for possible amendment (requires not less than two-thirds vote). On September 1, 2016, a month after the new university rules become effective, the university will be required to submit the rules to the legislature for review, including explanations of why the university adopted the provisions.
2. Who can carry or possess a concealed handgun on campus now under current law (through July 31, 2016)?
  • Holder of a concealed handgun license (CHL) under specified conditions
  • Individuals without a CHL under specified conditions
3. Where on campus can a concealed handgun be carried now under current law (through July 31, 2016)?
  • Individuals without a concealed handgun license (CHL):
    • In a motor vehicle that is owned by the individual or under their control so long as the handgun is not in plain view and they are lawfully permitted to own a handgun.
  • Holders of CHL:
    • Can carry: Public or private driveway, street, sidewalk or walkway, parking lot, parking garage, or other parking area.
    • Cannot carry:
      - Physical premises (building or portion of building)
      - Any grounds on which a Stephen F. Austin State University sponsored activity is being conducted
      - A Stephen F. Austin State University passenger transportation vehicle (e.g., bus)
      - On the premises of a polling place on the day of the election, including during early voting
      - In or into a secured area of an airport
      - Premises where a collegiate sporting event or interscholastic event is taking place (e.g., Homer Bryce Stadium during football games)
      - On the premises of a church, synagogue, or other established place of religious worship
      - At any meeting of a governmental entity (e.g., Board of Regents)
4. Does a handgun currently have to be concealed when it is being carried on campus?
  • Yes:
    • If a concealed handgun license (CHL) holder intentionally or knowingly displays the handgun in plain view of another person in a public place, it is a Class A misdemeanor.
    • If a handgun is in an individual's motor vehicle, it must not be in plain view.
5. What do I do if I see someone with a handgun on campus?
The safest course of action is to call the Stephen F. Austin State University Department of Public Safety by dialing 911 from a campus phone or 936-468-2608 from any other phone. They will respond and make contact with the individual to determine if that person is an authorized license holder and is legitimately carrying a firearm.
6. What if someone has a handgun in violation of the current law? What is the penalty?

3rd degree felony (Places Weapons Prohibited - Texas Penal Code §46.03) if carry a handgun on:

  • Physical premises (building or portion of building) of Stephen F. Austin State University campus
  • Any grounds on which a Stephen F. Austin State University sponsored activity is being conducted
  • A Stephen F. Austin State University passenger transportation vehicle (e.g., bus)
  • The premises of a polling place on the day of the election, including during early voting
  • In or into a secured area of an airport

Having a concealed handgun license (CHL) is not a defense to prosecution for any of the above.

  • Class A Misdemeanor (Unlawful Carrying Weapons - Texas Penal Code §46.02) if carry a handgun anywhere on campus, other than those places listed above, without a CHL, unless the individual is in a motor vehicle and the handgun is not in plain view.
  • Class A Misdemeanor (Unlawful Carrying of Handgun by License Holder - Texas Penal Code §46.035) if holder of a CHL carries a handgun:

- On the premises where a high school, collegiate, or professional sporting event or interscholastic event is taking place, unless the license holder is a participant in the event and a handgun is used in the event.

- On the premises of a church, synagogue, or other established place of religious worship

- At any meeting of a governmental entity (e.g., City Council, County Commissioners, or Board of Regents)

7. What are the requirements to obtain a concealed handgun license in Texas?

In general, individuals are eligible for licenses to carry concealed handguns, if they:

  • Are over 21 years of age;
  • Have been a legal resident of the state for a six-month period preceding the application;
  • Have not been convicted of a felony;
  • Are not currently charged with commission of a Class A or B misdemeanor;
  • Are not chemically dependent;
  • Are capable of exercising sound judgment;
  • Are not currently restricted under a court protective order or subject to a restraining order affecting a spousal relationship;
  • Are qualified under federal and state law to purchase a handgun;
  • Are current on child support payments or other monies collected by a state agency; and
  • Take and pass a course that has a written test and a shooting proficiency test.

Full eligibility requirements are explained in Texas Government Code § 411.172.

8. What will the new law on campus carry allow that is currently prohibited?

Current law allows concealed handgun license (CHL) holders to carry a concealed handgun on a university campus only in parking lots, parking garages, driveways, streets, sidewalk or walkway and other outdoor areas, except where an activity sponsored by SFASU is being conducted.

Beginning August 1, 2016, public four year universities must allow concealed carry of handguns in buildings by handgun license holders. Universities will be allowed to designate certain areas on campus where carrying of concealed handguns by license holders is prohibited, subject to system and legislative review.

9. What are the requirements be to obtain a handgun license after the campus carry law goes into effect?
See answer to question 7 above (What are the requirements to obtain a concealed handgun license in Texas?)
10. When does the new law on campus carry take effect?
August 1, 2016 for public four-year universities. September 1, 2017 for two-year public colleges.
11. How many people have a concealed handgun license in Texas?

As of December 31, 2014, the Texas Department of Public Safety reported that there were 825,957 active concealed handgun license holders. The population of Texas was 26.96 million in 2014; 2.7% held a CHL.

In 2013, 0.03% of CHL holders had a criminal conviction. In 2014, 0.12% of CHL holders had their license revoked.

Reports and statistics for concealed handgun licenses can be found on the Texas Department of Public Safety website underConcealed Handgun > Reports and Statistics > Demographics.

12. What is "open carry" and when does it take effect?
On June 13, 2015, Governor Abbott also signed into law House Bill 910. This law permits handgun license holders to openly carry (no duty to conceal) a handgun in areas where it is not prohibited by law. This law becomes effective on January 1, 2016.
13. Will the new open carry law allow license holders to openly carry a handgun on campus?
No. H.B. 910, the open carry law effective January 1, 2016, provides a handgun license holder cannot carry a partially or wholly visible handgun, regardless if it is holstered, and intentionally or knowingly display the handgun in plain view of another person on the premises [building] of a university, or any driveway, street, or parking area of a university.
14. What kind of rules can be established regarding carrying concealed handguns on campus and what is the process for establishing rules?

The President, after consulting with students, faculty, and staff regarding the nature of the student population, specific safety considerations, and the uniqueness of the campus environment, shall establish reasonable rules regarding the carrying of concealed handguns by license holders on campus. The President may amend the rules as necessary for campus safety.

The law allows, but does not require a university to make rules concerning the storage of handguns in dormitories or other residential facilities that are on campus and owned by the university, or on campus and leased and operated by the university.

Not later than 90 days after the President's rules are established, the Board of Regents shall review the rules. The rules may be amended by a vote of not less than two-thirds of the Board. If amended by the Board, the amended rules shall constitute the university's rules.

The rules shall be widely distributed, including posting to the university's website. Effective notice under Texas Penal Code §30.06 must be provided for any portion of a premise where a license holder may not carry.

Not later than September 1 of even-numbered years, each university shall report to the legislature its concealed carry rules and explain the reasons the university established the rules.

15. Can I personally make a rule that someone who has a license to carry a handgun cannot carry into my office, classroom, or laboratory?
No. Effective August 1, 2016, concealed carry is allowed on university campuses, including all offices, classrooms, and laboratories by anyone holding a valid handgun license, unless carrying a handgun is prohibited by state law, federal law, or university rules. S.B. 273 prohibits the university and its employees from imposing restrictions greater than those imposed by law. Violations of S.B. 273 can result in a fine to the university as high as $10,500 per day.
16. If someone does not have a license to carry a handgun, can they carry a handgun on campus under the new law?
No. Carrying a concealed handgun is only legal if an individual has a handgun license. State law does permit those without a handgun license to carry a handgun in their vehicle if the handgun is concealed and the person can legally possess a firearm. See Texas Penal Code 46.02(a)(2).
17. If someone without a license carries a handgun on campus, what are the penalties?
If the person is a student, faculty member, or staff member they can be sanctioned according to the rules applicable to their status. It may also be a violation of the criminal law. The offense can be a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on where the handgun was carried.
18. Can an international student legally inTexas on a student visa obtain a CHL?
No. To obtain a Texas Concealed Handgun License you must be qualified under state and federal law to purchase a handgun. See Texas Government Code 411.172. An international student here on a student visa is prohibited under federal law from purchasing or possessing a firearm or ammunition unless they meet certain exceptions; for example, they are admitted to the U.S. for lawful hunting or sporting purposes. There are other exceptions. See 18 U.S.C. 922(g)(5)(B) and 922(y)(2).
19. Can an undocumented international student obtain a CHL?
No. Undocumented students are not legal residents of the state. To obtain a CHL, a person must be a legal resident of the state for a 6-month period preceding the date of the application.
20. Is a handgun license holder required to display identification if asked to by a magistrate or a peace officer?
Yes. The license holder shall display both the license holder's driver's license or identification certificate issued by TXDPS, and the license holder's handgun license. Texas Government Code § 411.205.
21. Is a handgun license holder required to respond if someone other than a peace officer or magistrate asks them if they have a handgun license?
No. A handgun license holder is not required to disclose he/she has a license to anyone except a magistrate or peace officer. A person engaged in lawful activity (i.e., applying for and obtaining a handgun license) is not required to provide information to any person, including a university official, about their personal choices, beliefs, or practices.
22. What would preclude someone from getting a handgun license?

In general, individuals are eligible for licenses to carry concealed handguns, if they:

  • Are over 21 years of age;
  • Have been a legal resident of the state for a six-month period preceding the application;
  • Have not been convicted of a felony;
  • Are not currently charged with commission of a Class A or B misdemeanor;
  • Are not chemically dependent;
  • Are capable of exercising sound judgment;
  • Are not currently restricted under a court protective order or subject to a restraining order affecting a spousal relationship;
  • Are qualified under federal and state law to purchase a handgun;
  • Are current on child support payments or other monies collected by a state agency; and
  • Take and pass a course that has a written test and a shooting proficiency test.

Full eligibility requirements are explained in Texas Government Code § 411.172.

23. What states have a reciprocity agreement with Texas so handgun license holders from other states can lawfully carry in Texas?

There are 42 states that have a reciprocity agreement with Texas. A Texas license holder must comply with the respective state laws when in that state.

When in Texas, license holders from other states must follow Texas gun laws, not their home state's gun laws.

Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho,Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska,Neveda, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wyoming.

24. What states do not have a reciprocity agreement with Texas?
Illinois, Maine, Minnesota, New Hampshire, Oregon, Vermont, and Wisconsin.
25. What will happen if a minor gains access to my handgun?
It is a violation of criminal law if a child (person younger than 17) gains access to a readily dischargeable firearm and the person with criminal negligence failed to secure the firearm; or left the firearm in a place to which the person knew or should have known the child would gain access. (Texas Penal Code §46.13). It is an affirmative defense to prosecution that the child's access to the firearm was supervised by a person older than 18 years of age and was for hunting, sporting, or other lawful purposes; or that access was gained by the child trespassing on the firearm owner's property. (Texas Penal Code §46.13).
26. What will happen if an adult gains access to my handgun?
It is not a violation of Texas law for a handgun owner to permit an adult to gain access to a handgun.
27. Does SFA offer a concealed handgun license class?
No. Courses are available locally from various gun shops, sporting goods stores, and individuals licensed as a Qualified Handgun Instructor.
28. Will the university track handgun license holders on campus?
No.

Acknowledgement

Thanks to Texas A&M for permission to use their frequently asked questions.