Town hall panelists discuss campus carry

Campus carry is a controversial topic among students at Richland and has been since the law was passed in 2016. With Texas being the ninth state to implement the law, some students are concerned for their safety. As a result, several students attended the Campus Carry and Handgun Forum presented by the Student Government Association on Aug. 29.

Of five panelists, three were Dallas County Community College District (DCCCD) police:  Capt. Mark Lozano, Sgt. Barry Orton and Cpl. Vincent Brooks.  Also on the panel were Tracy Smith, attorney with Brewer & Lormand and Patrick Moore, government professor at Richland. The panel answered questions about the law and provided a sense of relief to faculty, staff and students.

The requirements to become eligible for a concealed carry:  The applicant has to be at least 21 unless active military, pass the classroom training courses plus the exam with a certified instructor from the Texas Department of Public Safety and has to have a clear background check.

An applicant will be denied the right to carry if the background check shows a DUI, past due child support, a Class A or B misdemeanor conviction within the last five years or a chemical dependency. All individuals are responsible for knowing where and how they are allowed to carry their weapons.

“There’s a difference between open carry, concealed carry and campus carry. The open carry gun law allows the weapon to be seen on an individual in public locations. The concealed carry gun law is the right to carry in certain places without anyone knowing and campus carry gun law allows individuals to carry on campus in certain areas,” said Brooks.

Exclusion zones are areas on campus where the concealed carry of handguns is prohibited. Colleges and universities must post signage at all places and events where the carrying of a concealed weapon is prohibited.

The DCCCD chancellor is the only person who has the power to recommend a handgun exclusion zone. The designation must be approved by the board of trustees.

Restricted areas are listed on the DCCCD website for more information.

If students are caught carrying in restricted areas or violating the law by not following the campus carry rules they could face fines and penalties. Violation of the concealed carry law is a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail and a $4,000 fine.

These penalties apply to all individuals who are licensed to carry who intentionally display a handgun or enter a gun-free or exclusion zone. Those interested in learning more about their rights can get in touch with the campus police for guidance or visit the DCCCD website.