FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) - Beginning on Tuesday, students and staff members at community colleges throughout Texas will be allowed to carry concealed guns on campus as the state's so-called 'campus carry' law expands. But there are still some restrictions.
Tarrant County College has put up signs designating select areas as gun-free zones. This includes performance halls and child care centers. These gun-free zones are marked on campus maps. Similar rules are in place at other community colleges across the state.
There are other restrictions on community college campuses as well. Those who choose to carry a concealed weapon must still have a valid handgun license. Rifles remain banned from the premises. Also, open carry will not be allowed. These rules apply statewide.
"They must be out of sight. They must be licensed," explained Ann Hatch with Dallas County Community College. "I think the percentage of students will be smaller than people anticipate, but we are prepared for that. The district went out to 40 forums to address concerns."
This is an expansion of the state's campus carry law that was passed by the Texas Legislature in 2015 and went into effect at all four-year public universities statewide in August of last year. Community colleges were given an extra year to prepare for the changes. That time is now over.
Hatch stated that 18 additional officers were added to the Dallas County Community College staff this year, but not because of the new law going into effect. The decision was made based on need.
Students at El Centro College in downtown Dallas, the site of last year's deadly ambush on police officers, have stated that the law brings about added concerns. "I just think it's crazy," said El Centro College student Nichovia Peterson, "because anything could happen."
"I don't think, under any situation, should a gun be allowed to go inside of a school, period," added student Sophia Rodriguez.
But other students at El Centro College stand behind the new law, saying that they do not have any reservations about it going into effect on Tuesday. "It's for their safety, so I don't think it's a big deal," said student Mahima Thaba.
According to the law, private colleges were allowed to opt out of the campus carry rules, and most of them did.
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