By Stefany Cevallos
Pulse staff reporter
Gun advocates can legally carry concealed firearms on all two-year community colleges in the Fall of 2017. With active shootings on the rise, the debate over policy and procedure still surround the issue.
The Alamo Community College District is required by state law to implement the Licensed Concealed Campus Carry Legislation by Aug. 1, 2017. This is one year after all four-year colleges and universities have implemented the law.
If you were wondering whether open carry is different from campus carry, it is. Texas Senate Bill 11, also known as “licensed concealed campus carry,” becomes law on Aug. 1, 2017. It allows people with a handgun license to carry in permitted areas on college campuses.
Texas House Bill 910, known as “open carry,” makes it legal for handgun license holders to carry visible firearms in Texas. Open Carry isn’t allowed on campuses, only concealed weapons. So even if your classmate or professor is a gun advocate, you should never have to know unless that person feels the need to use a firearm.
Active shootings are becoming more common, according to an FBI study of active shooter incidents. Between 2000 and 2006, an average of 6.4 incidents occurred annually, but between 2007 and 2013, that average increased to 16.4 incidents annually.
“Something else we gotta look out for, that’s all we can do,” said Corporal Maria Salazar, PAC campus coordinator of Alamo Colleges’ Police Department. “It’s a good thing and a bad thing. Like they tell us, don’t ever be afraid of the people that have a license. It’s the people that don’t have a license to carry that you need to worry about.”
Active shooter fliers are on campus, but no notice of the open carry mandate going into effect in the coming months exists.
“We haven’t gotten anything in black and white yet, but they are working on it because they need to make sure they are covering it,” Salazar said.
Alamo Colleges’ self-proclaimed super team, otherwise known as the “Campus Carry Task Force,” is helping the district put additional policies into place. This committee’s goal is to comply with the state law while maintaining the safest environments.
A 21-member committee comprised of students, faculty and staff was specifically chosen by ACCD’s Chancellor Bruce Leslie. The group discusses the nature of the student population, specific safety considerations and the uniqueness of the campus environment.
The chancellor will consider the committee’s input and establish reasonable regulations pertaining to licensed concealed campus carry. The Board of Trustees is authorized to amend by a 2/3 majority vote during a 90-day period immediately following its establishment. To submit suggestions to the super team, you may email Patricia K. Meurin, ACCD’s paralegal at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“Something can go wrong, and it can hurt a lot of people,” said Skye Saeid, a freshman majoring in Liberal Arts. Students used words like “controversial” and “on the fence” when asked if they were for or against the new policy.
“What if that person is having a bad day?” asked Dezerea Lippert, a freshman majoring in Liberal Arts.
Palo Alto College has undergone preparation for a possible active shooter on campus. In the middle of a small study group of mine, a member of campus police interrupted our studying and went over the drill for a possible incident. The officer suggested hiding, running or fighting.
If you’re interested in active shooter training, contact the Alamo Colleges Police Department at (210) 485-0099 for the next scheduled active shooter training.