Students informed on campus carry bill in recent session

by HANNAH NELSON//Staff Writer

An information session for the campus carry bill was held for students on Nov. 16 in the Founder’s Room of the Student Center on the Levelland campus.

The session was held by the South Plains College Campus Carry Task Force. The task force addressed a variety of issues about the Campus Carry law that will go into effect on Aug. 1, 2017 for Texas community colleges.

Senate Bill 11 allows a licensed person to carry a concealed handgun while on a college campus. The bill applies to hand guns only. In order to have a valid license, the carrier must be at least 21 years old, have no criminal record, and have met specific requirements. A firearm may not be carried openly on campus. It must be concealed.

“While on campus, your weapon has to be concealed, that’s what the law is,” said Jaycee Caldwell, president of the Student Government Association and member of the task force. “That way no one knows you have it. And also when people ask, you are not required to answer unless asked by a peace officer.”

During the session, the detail was discussed that this is a law and will be in effect and enforced for all land and buildings of SPC beginning with the fall semester.

“We want the students to understand that it’s the law,” Caldwell explained. “We have no choice but to enforce this on campus next year. The hand guns are going to be allowed. As far as restricting areas, the more we restrict certain areas, the more we are abusing the law.”

Any exclusions to this must be handled and requested by the president of the college, Dr. Robin Satterwhite. One area that will be restricted at all times next fall semester is the Natatorium, due to the high number of high school students and families that come through the facility.

Campus carry will be restricted by law during certain campus events. This is when a high school, collegiate, professional sporting, or UIL event is taking place on campus.

“For example, the Dome and the track will have temporary signs indicating that guns are not allowed each time there is a game or track meet taking place,” said Caldwell.

She explained that this restriction does not apply for the intramural sports that happen on campus.

“When we are hosting UIL events, buildings and areas will be temporarily restricted,” Caldwell said. “No one except police officers will be able to carry a handgun in the identified areas on these days.”

The South Plains College Campus Carry Task Force is a group with members ranging from the students to the dean of students and the chief of police.

“The legislation requires that we have representation from all demographics of the college,” said Nick Castillo, campus police chief. “So that we can have a task force small enough to get things done and not have too many cooks in the kitchen as they say, but also large enough to encompass all demographics.”

To learn more about campus carry, visit the Safety and Health tab under MySPC on the college web page. You can also contact members of the Campus Carry Task Force, including Caldwell.

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