Be informed about Campus Carry and Open Carry
HCC 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 HCC is taking to comply.
Campus Carry and Open Carry FAQs
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 HCC.
Is "Open Carry" allowed on public college campuses?
No. Open carry will not apply to public colleges, including HCC. 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 HCC campuses and into many HCC 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 effective for HCC until August 1, 2017 although HCC 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 HCC doing to inform the college community about legislation relating to Open Carry and Campus Carry?
The Chancellor has commissioned a committee representative of the administration 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, HCC 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 HCC Police Department immediately at 8-8888.
What should I do if I see a classmate with a gun?
The law and HCC prohibit the visible display of handguns, and license holders should know that handguns they carry on campus, even if concealed, are currently prohibited. Contact the HCC Police Department if you have a concern.
How will HCC 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, HCC police 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.