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Campus Carry Background

Senate Bill 11, the “Campus Carry” law, was passed by the Texas Legislature and signed into law by Governor Abbott on June 13, 2015. It provides that, effective August 1, 2016, a person having a license to carry a handgun may carry a concealed handgun on the campus – both on the grounds and in the buildings – of an institution of higher education. Senate Bill 11 authorizes the president of an institution of higher education to enact reasonable rules, regulations or other provisions regarding the carrying of concealed handguns by license holders on campus. However, those rules, regulations or other provisions may not generally prohibit, or have the effect of generally prohibiting, license holders from carrying concealed handguns on campus.

People who are not holders of a license to carry a handgun, unless otherwise authorized by law (e.g., a peace officer), commit a third degree felony (Places Weapons Prohibited, Texas Penal Code § 46.03) if they possess a firearm (including a handgun), illegal knife, club or prohibited weapon on the premises (i.e., a building or portion of a building) of an institution of higher education. On the property of an institution of higher education, but not in a building, the offense would be Unlawful Carrying of a Weapon; which is a Class A misdemeanor.

Campus Carry Awareness and Information

Q: When does campus carry go into effect on the PVAMU campus?

A: SB 11, which allows holders of a license to carry a handgun to carry a concealed handgun on the PVAMU campus, went into effect throughout the State of Texas on August 1, 2016.

Q: How will the PVAMU community be kept informed about campus carry issues?

A: PVAMU has established a campus carry website where information and resources pertaining to campus carry will be available. Other means of disseminating information about campus carry may include social media outlets, email communications and presentations.

Criteria for Legal Concealed Carry of a Handgun on Campus

Q: When are firearms allowed on campus?

A: Since Texas passed its CHL law (SB 273) in 1995, it has been legal for concealed handgun license holders to carry a concealed handgun on the grounds, but not the premises (i.e., in a building), of an institution of higher education. SB 11 allows holders of a license to carry a handgun to carry a concealed handgun into university premises, in addition to on university grounds, as of August 1, 2016.

People who are not holders of a license to carry a handgun, unless otherwise authorized (e.g., a peace officer), commit a third degree felony (Places Weapons Prohibited, Texas Penal Code Sec. 46.03) if they possess a firearm (including a handgun), illegal knife, club or prohibited weapon on the premises of an institution of higher education. On the property of an institution of higher education, but not in a building, the offense would be Unlawful Carrying of a Weapon, which is a class A misdemeanor.

Q: What are the qualifications for obtaining a license to carry a handgun?

A: The detailed requirements for obtaining a license to carry a handgun in the State of Texas are specified in Chapter 411, Subchapter H of the Texas Government Code. In summary, license holders must be at least 21 years old*, must have passed a background check and must have satisfactorily completed basic handgun training specified by the State of Texas. Another eligibility requirement is that the person in question “is not incapable of exercising sound judgment with respect to the proper use and storage of a handgun.” http://www.txdps.state.tx.us/InternetForms/Forms/CHL-16.pdf

If a license holder uses a handgun in violation of the law they will be subject to arrest and possible prosecution. If a license holder is found to be in possession of a handgun while committing any criminal offense, they may be subject to arrest and prosecution. Research has shown that only approximately 0.23% of those convicted of any kind of criminal offense in the State of Texas are license holders. http://www.txdps.state.tx.us/RSD/CHL/Reports/ConvictionRatesReport2014.pdf

*Military exception to the handgun license age requirement (Section 411.172h of the Government Code): a person who is at least 18 years of age, but not yet 21 years of age, is eligible for a license to carry a concealed handgun if the person:

(1) is a member or veteran of the United States armed forces, including a member or veteran of the reserves or national guard;

(2) was discharged under honorable conditions, if discharged from the United States armed forces, reserves, or national guard; and

(3) meets the other eligibility requirements of Subsection (a) except for the minimum age required by federal law to purchase a handgun.

Q: Will students be able to carry a handgun on their person?

A: Yes, IF they possess a valid license to carry a handgun recognized by the State of Texas and the handgun is concealed; provided they are not otherwise violating the law.

Q: Can guns be displayed on campus?

A: No, with the exception of law enforcement officers, openly displaying a firearm is not allowed on campus. The law allows license holders to carry a concealed handgun on campus. License holders commit a criminal offense if they intentionally or knowingly display a handgun in the plain view of another person on the campus unless the use of deadly force is justified under the law. “Printing” (the outline, or portion of the outline, of a handgun being visible through clothing) or unintentional exposure of a holstered handgun by a license holder is not a violation of the law. However, call the police if you observe that a person other than a police officer has a firearm. The police can then determine if the person in question is violating the law.

Q: What does it mean to “brandish” a weapon? If someone is brandishing a weapon, what actions should be taken?

A: “Brandishing” is displaying a weapon in a threatening manner or a manner calculated to alarm. If you observe anyone brandishing a weapon, take precautions to protect yourself and call the police immediately.

Q: Can I openly carry a loaded firearm on campus?

A: No, open (unconcealed) carry is not permitted on campus. Only legal concealed carry of a handgun in keeping with the Texas Penal Code, as amended by SB 273 and SB 11, is permitted. A license holder may carry their handgun concealed, in a loaded condition, under any circumstance in which the law allows them to carry a concealed handgun.

Q: Can I open carry a handgun in a vehicle on campus?

A: No, open (unconcealed carry) is not permitted in a vehicle on campus. Even in a vehicle, a legally possessed handgun must be reasonably concealed (e.g., in the glove compartment, under a seat, in a case etc.).

Q: Where can I get more information about Texas License to Carry a Handgun Laws?

A: An excellent source of information about Texas License to Carry a Handgun Laws can be found at http://www.txdps.state.tx.us/InternetForms/Forms/CHL-16.pdf. A good source of information about the Texas Handgun Licensing Program is http://www.txdps.state.tx.us/RSD/CHL/Legal/newlegislation.htm

Locations Where Firearms are Prohibited

Q: In what areas are license holders prohibited from carrying a handgun on campus?

A: License holders are prohibited from carrying a concealed handgun into the following areas:

  • The premises of the H.T. Jones Elementary School, and the school grounds when a school-sponsored activity is taking place on those grounds;
  • All facilities where a high school, collegiate or professional sporting event or interscholastic event is taking place;
  • The Johnson-Phillip All Faiths Chapel;
  • The location in the Don K. Clark Building where municipal court is held when court is in session;
  • Locations serving as polling places when being used for that purpose;
  • The Student Recreation Center;
  • Specific premises in which formal hearings are being conducted pursuant to University Rules or Administrative Procedures for faculty and staff disciplinary matters, student conduct proceedings, and academic grievances;
  • The Bistro 1876 Restaurant; and
  • The Owens-Franklin Health Center Building.
  • Any locations determined by the President to be necessary due to campus safety considerations.

Q: Will concealed carry of a handgun by a license holder be prohibited in PVAMU classrooms:

A: No. Although there has been widespread concern expressed about license holders being able to carry concealed handguns in classrooms, it is believed that the law does not allow the prohibition of concealed carry of handguns by license holders in classrooms. The primary on-campus activity for students is attending classes. Moreover, most faculty members and some staff members must enter classrooms frequently. Prohibiting license holders from carrying concealed handguns in classrooms would have the effect of generally prohibiting them from carrying concealed handguns on campus, and would therefore violate provisions of S.B. 11. This conclusion is reinforced by a recent opinion released by the Texas Attorney General. The only way to avoid such a result would be for PVAMU to provide secure gun storage lockers at numerous locations around campus. For a variety of reasons, doing so would be highly impractical and ill-advised.

First, since the open display of a handgun on campus will remain a criminal offense, gun lockers would have to be put in places allowing license holders to remove and transfer their handguns without displaying them in the plain view of others. Second, the University would have to ensure that measures are taken to safeguard the lockers, limit accessibility only to the license holders who have stored their handguns there, and deal with handguns that are stored but not reclaimed. Third, license holders could be “outed” by anyone who chose to linger near the entrance to the gun lockers. Fourth, and most compellingly, every knowledgeable source consulted unequivocally stressed the elevated danger that accompanies the transfer of a handgun to a storage unit. A policy that increases the number of instances in which a handgun must be transferred multiplies the danger of an accidental discharge. It is believed that the risks of placing gun lockers around campus would substantially outweigh any benefits that may be realized by prohibiting license holders from carrying concealed handguns in classrooms.

Q: Will signage be used to designate areas where concealed carry of a handgun by a license holder will continue to be prohibited?

A: Yes, signage meeting the standards specified in Section 30.06 of the Texas Penal Code will be used to designate areas where concealed carry of a handgun by a license holder will be prohibited.

Q: What if I accidentally take my handgun into an area where concealed carry of a handgun by a license holder will continue to be prohibited?

A: Those who hold a license to carry a handgun are expected to maintain a high level of responsibility for the care and control of their concealed handgun at all times. Any violation — even accidental — will have consequences and will be dealt with on a case-by-case basis.

Recommendations for License Holders

Q: What are some general recommendations for responsible concealed carry?

A: Only carry a modern handgun equipped with safety features preventing the gun from firing unless the trigger is pulled.

Use a holster that completely covers the trigger and trigger guard, that retains the handgun such that it will not come out of the holster accidentally and that facilitates concealment of the firearm.

Do not do anything to call attention to the fact you have a gun.

  • Keep the handgun concealed at all times in public.
    • Use a holster that retains the handgun such that it will not come out of the holster accidentally. You are responsible for maintaining control of your firearm.
    • Use a holster, and carry in such a location, that your handgun will be concealed effectively.
    • Wear clothing covering your handgun that conceals it effectively, minimizing the chance of “printing.”
  • Avoid adjusting or touching the area where you are concealing your handgun in public unless it is necessary to ensure that you maintain proper control of the firearm.
  • Do not tell someone that you are carrying a handgun unless they have a legitimate need to know (e.g., a police officer during a formal contact).
  • Do not display your handgun in public unless circumstances are such that you would be legally justified in using deadly force.

Whenever possible, strive to avoid or de-escalate conflicts.

Q: How should license holders interact with police officers in the course of official contacts?

A: Police officers will not have advance knowledge of who is permitted to carry a handgun. License holders who are carrying a concealed handgun are required to provide their license to a police officer upon request. In the event of a crisis situation, police officers are trained to consider the totality of the circumstances, including the actions of the people they observe. License holders are responsible for acting appropriately.

If you are a license holder and are stopped by the police:

  • It is recommended that you inform the officer(s) that you have a license to carry a handgun (If you are stopped in your car show the officer your driver’s license, license to carry a handgun, and proof of insurance.), whether or not you are carrying a handgun and, if so, where you are carrying it.
  • Keep your hands where the officer(s) can see them clearly and avoid making sudden movements.
  • Throughout the contact, try to keep your hands away from where the handgun is located.
  • Remain calm, polite and cooperative. Don’t get into an argument with the police. Staying calm and polite helps to keep officers calm.
  • Think carefully, about your words, movement, body language, and emotions.
  • Don’t run. Don’t touch any police officer.
  • Do NOT resist even if you believe that the police are acting inappropriately. The issue of guilt or innocence, if applicable, and the appropriateness of police actions can be dealt with later.
  • Do not interfere with or obstruct the police, you can be arrested for it.
  • The police do have the right to disarm you if they feel the need to for safety reasons.

Q: What are some recommendations in the event of an “active shooter” situation?

A: The following are some general recommendations for reacting to an active shooter situation:

Active Shooter

An active shooter is defined as one or more subjects actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill multiple people in a populated area. Active shooter situations are dynamic, evolve quickly, and often end before law enforcement arrives at the scene. How you respond to an active shooter will be dictated by the specific circumstances of the encounter. If you find yourself in an active shooter situation, try to remain as calm as possible and use these suggested actions to help you plan a strategy for survival.

Run. Hide. Fight. (© 2012 City of Houston)

Should you ever find yourself in the middle of an active shooter incident, your survival may depend on whether or not you have a plan. The plan doesn’t have to be complicated. There are three things you could do that make a difference: Run. Hide. Fight.

Run. When an active shooter is in your vicinity:

  • If there is an escape path, attempt to evacuate.
  • Evacuate whether others agree to or not.
  • Leave your belongings behind.
  • Help others escape, if possible.
  • Prevent others from entering the area.
  • Call to 911 (4-911 from a campus phone) when you are safe.

Hide. If an evacuation is not possible, find a place to hide and:

  • Lock and/or blockade the door.
  • Silence your cell phone.
  • Hide behind large objects.
  • Remain very quiet.

Your hiding place should:

  • Be out of the shooter’s view.
  • Provide protection if shots are fired in your direction.
  • Not trap or restrict your options for movement.

Fight. As a last resort, and only if your life is in danger:

  • Attempt to incapacitate the shooter.
  • Act with physical aggression.
  • Improvise weapons.
  • Commit to your actions.

Arriving law enforcement’s first priority is to engage and stop the shooter as soon as possible. Officers will form teams and immediately proceed to engage the shooter, moving towards the sound of gunfire.

When law enforcement arrives:

  • Remain calm and follow instructions.
  • Keep your hands visible at all times.
  • Avoid pointing at police officers or yelling.
  • Know that help for the injured in on its way.

Q: Are handgun license holders required to use a “retention” holster when carrying a concealed handgun?

A: No, although all holsters provide some level of retention, no particular level of retention is specified in the law. Keep in mind that a license holder is responsible for their handgun and may be liable for damages if they are negligent. A good quality holster should completely cover the trigger guard and trigger and retain the handgun such that it will not come out of the holster accidentally.

Q: What is some information that license holders should know about the use of force?

A: The following is some important use of force information:

Use of Force Considerations

PC § 9.31. SELF-DEFENSE.

  1. Except as provided in Subsection (b), a person is justified in using force against another when and to the degree the actor reasonably believes the force is immediately necessary to protect the actor against the other’s use or attempted use of unlawful force. The actor’s belief that the force was immediately necessary as described by this subsection is presumed to be reasonable if the actor:
    1. knew or had reason to believe that the person against whom the force was used:
      1. unlawfully and with force entered, or was attempting to enter unlawfully and with force, the actor’s occupied habitation, vehicle, or place of business or employment;
      2. unlawfully and with force removed, or was attempting to remove unlawfully and with force, the actor from the actor’s habitation, vehicle, or place of business or employment; or
      3. was committing or attempting to commit aggravated kidnapping, murder, sexual assault, aggravated sexual assault, robbery, or aggravated robbery;
    2. did not provoke the person against whom the force was used; and
    3. was not otherwise engaged in criminal activity, other than a Class C misdemeanor that is a violation of a law or ordinance regulating traffic at the time the force was used.
  2. The use of force against another is not justified:
    1. in response to verbal provocation alone;
    2. to resist an arrest or search that the actor knows is being made by a peace officer, or by a person acting in a peace officer’s presence and at his direction, even though the arrest or search is unlawful, unless the resistance is justified under Subsection (c);
    3. if the actor consented to the exact force used or attempted by the other;
    4. if the actor provoked the other’s use or attempted use of unlawful force, unless:
      1. the actor abandons the encounter, or clearly communicates to the other his intent to do so reasonably believing he cannot safely abandon the encounter; and
      2. the other nevertheless continues or attempts to use unlawful force against the actor; or
    5. if the actor sought an explanation from or discussion with the other person concerning the actor’s differences with the other person while the actor was:
      1. carrying a weapon in violation of Section 46.02; or
      2. possessing or transporting a weapon in violation of Section 46.05.
  3. The use of force to resist an arrest or search is justified:
        1. if, before the actor offers any resistance, the peace officer (or person acting at his direction) uses or attempts to use greater force than necessary to make the arrest or search; and
        2. when and to the degree the actor reasonably believes the force is immediately necessary to protect himself against the peace officer’s (or other person’s) use or attempted use of greater force than necessary.
  4. The use of deadly force is not justified under this subchapter except as provided in Sections 9.32, 9.33, and 9.34.
  5. A person who has a right to be present at the location where the force is used, who has not provoked the person against whom the force is used, and who is not engaged in criminal activity at the time the force is used is not required to retreat before using force as described by this section.
  6. For purposes of Subsection (a), in determining whether an actor described by Subsection (e) reasonably believed that the use of force was necessary, a finder of fact may not consider whether the actor failed to retreat.

PC § 9.01. DEFINITION:

“Deadly force” means force that is intended or known by the actor to cause, or in the manner of its use or intended use is capable of causing, death or serious bodily injury.

PC § 9.32. DEADLY FORCE IN DEFENSE OF PERSON.

  1. A person is justified in using deadly force against another:
    1. if the actor would be justified in using force against the other under PC § 9.31; and
    2. when and to the degree the actor reasonably believes the deadly force is immediately necessary:
      1. to protect the actor against the other’s use or attempted use of unlawful deadly force; or
      2. to prevent the other’s imminent commission of aggravated kidnapping, murder, sexual assault, aggravated sexual assault, robbery, or aggravated robbery.
  2. The actor’s belief under Subsection (a)(2) that the deadly force was immediately necessary as described by that subdivision is presumed to be reasonable if the actor:
    1. knew or had reason to believe that the person against whom the deadly force was used:
      1. unlawfully and with force entered, or was attempting to enter unlawfully and with force, the actor’s occupied habitation, vehicle, or place of business or employment;
      2. unlawfully and with force removed, or was attempting to remove unlawfully and with force, the actor from the actor’s habitation, vehicle, or place of business or employment; or
      3. was committing or attempting to commit an offense described by Subsection (a)(2)(B);
    2. did not provoke the person against whom the force was used; and
    3. was not otherwise engaged in criminal activity, other than a Class C misdemeanor that is a violation of a law or ordinance regulating traffic at the time the force was used.
  3. A person who has a right to be present at the location where the deadly force is used, who has not provoked the person against whom the deadly force is used, and who is not engaged in criminal activity at the time the deadly force is used is not required to retreat before using deadly force as described by this section.
  4. For purposes of Subsection (a)(2), in determining whether an actor described by Subsection (c) reasonably believed that the use of deadly force was necessary, a finder of fact may not consider whether the actor failed to retreat.

PC § 9.33. DEFENSE OF THIRD PERSON.

A person is justified in using force or deadly force against another to protect a third person if:

  1. under the circumstances as the actor reasonably believes them to be, the actor would be justified under Section 9.31 or 9.32 in using force or deadly force to protect himself against the unlawful force or unlawful deadly force he reasonably believes to be threatening the third person he seeks to protect; and
  2. the actor reasonably believes that his intervention is immediately necessary to protect the third person.

PC § 9.34. PROTECTION OF LIFE OR HEALTH.

  1. A person is justified in using force, but not deadly force, against another when and to the degree he reasonably believes the force is immediately necessary to prevent the other from committing suicide or inflicting serious bodily injury to himself.
  2. A person is justified in using both force and deadly force against another when and to the degree he reasonably believes the force or deadly force is immediately necessary to preserve the other’s life in an emergency.

PC § 9.04. THREATS AS JUSTIFIABLE FORCE.

The threat of force is justified when the use of force is justified by this chapter. For purposes of this section, a threat to cause death or serious bodily injury by the production of a weapon or otherwise, as long as the actor’s purpose is limited to creating an apprehension that he will use deadly force if necessary, does not constitute the use of deadly force.

PC § 9.05. RECKLESS INJURY OF INNOCENT THIRD PERSON.

Even though an actor is justified under this chapter in threatening or using force or deadly force against another, if in doing so he also recklessly injures or kills an innocent third person, the justification afforded by this chapter is unavailable in a prosecution for the reckless injury or killing of the innocent third person.

PC § 9.06. CIVIL REMEDIES UNAFFECTED.

The fact that conduct is justified under this chapter does not abolish or impair any remedy for the conduct that is available in a civil suit.

Monitoring and Reporting of Firearms on Campus

Q: Does PVAMU actively monitor who has a firearm on campus?

A: The University Police Department enforces all laws pertaining to the illegal possession of firearms on campus. However, there is no practical way to monitor who has a firearm in every building on campus. Although anyone can ask if someone else is carrying a handgun, a license holder is only required to answer to a law enforcement officer. Moreover, questioning someone without at least reasonable suspicion that they are violating the law would be contrary to the spirit and intent of the law.

Q: What action should be taken if a person is observed with a firearm on campus?

A: PVAMU will follow applicable laws and university rules, policies and procedures. As the law only allows holders of a license to carry a handgun to carry a concealed handgun on campus, firearms should not be visible except on the person of a law enforcement officer. If someone other than a law enforcement officer is observed to be in possession of a handgun on campus, the University Police Department should be contacted:

    • If a person who is not obviously a police officer is observed in possession of a long gun (i.e., a rifle or shotgun), call 911.
    • If a person is observed carrying a concealed or unconcealed handgun while acting in a threatening manner, call 911.
    • If a person who is not obviously a police officer is openly carrying a handgun, call UPD at (936) 261-1375.
    • If a person is observed carrying a concealed handgun because the handgun is poorly concealed or is momentarily obvious due to shifting clothing, but the person is not behaving in a threatening manner, call UPD at (936) 261-1375.

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