Q. Why does UT Health Science Center need a campus carry policy?
A. Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed Senate Bill 11 (“campus carry”), which allows for the carrying of concealed handguns on Texas public institution campuses by concealed handgun license (CHL) holders. The purpose of the campus carry policy is to provide guidance on how the law will be implemented at UT Health while maintaining the safety of our campus community.
Q. When does the new law take effect?
A. Campus carry will take effect on Aug. 1, 2016, although UT Health will be putting plans in place months ahead of that date to educate and inform the campus community.
Q. Can anybody carry a handgun on a Texas public university campus when the new law takes place?
A. Campus carry is limited to concealed handgun license (CHL) holders. To obtain a concealed handgun license, a person must be 21 years old (with the exception of active duty military and police officers), meet state and federal qualifications to own a handgun and receive training from a CHL instructor that is certified by the Texas Department of Public Safety.
Q. Are handguns the only type of firearm to which campus carry applies?
A. Yes. Senate Bill 11 makes it legal for concealed handgun license (CHL) holders to carry handguns on campus, starting Aug. 1, 2016. Since CHLs do not permit rifles and other weapons, those items remain prohibited at UT Health.
Q. Who will develop UT Health’s campus carry policy?
A. UT Health Science Center President Kirk Calhoun has appointed a campus carry task force comprised of UT Health students, faculty members and staff members. Listening sessions will also be organized to allow the larger UT Health community an opportunity to share its suggestions on the university’s campus carry policy. The task force will make recommendations to President Calhoun in fall 2015. The UT System and UT System Board of Regents must also approve UT Health’s proposed campus carry policy.
Q. What kinds of things will the UT Health task force consider when it develops the university’s campus carry policy?
A. Senate Bill 11 gives the presidents of Texas’ public universities the option to designate handgun-free zones on their campuses. UT Health’s task force will consider areas that could be designated as gun-free zones, how and where to place signage to notify the UT Health community and visitors about the law, whether lock-boxes and storage units are needed and where they would be installed, and how to educate the campus community about the new law.
Q. I have suggestions about where we should permit handguns on campus and where to exclude them. How do I send my thoughts directly to the UT Health campus carry task force?
A. You can share your ideas with the UT Health campus carry task force by emailing the committee at .
Q. Is there a difference between campus carry and open carry?
A. Yes. Texas Senate Bill 11 – known as “campus carry” – becomes law on Aug. 1, 2016 and allows people with a concealed handgun license (CHL) to carry concealed handguns in permitted areas on campus. The handguns must remain concealed. Texas House Bill 910 – known as “open carry” – becomes law on Jan. 1, 2016 and makes it legal for CHL holders to carry visible handguns in the state of Texas. However, open carry would not apply at public universities, including UT Health, so even when both laws go into effect, individuals will not be allowed to carry visible handguns at UT Health.
Q. I don’t have a concealed handgun license, but I own a handgun and I’m a safe person. Why can’t I bring my handgun on campus?
A. Texas Senate Bill 11 only allows individuals with a concealed handgun license (CHL) to carry a weapon on a university campus. It’s the law, and as a public university, we must follow the law.
Q. How do I obtain a CHL?
A. The Texas Department of Public Safety administers concealed handgun licenses. Visit www.txdps.state.tx.us and click on the “concealed handgun” link for more information.
Q. How do I keep up to date about campus safety at UT Health?
A. In adherence to the Clery Act, UT Health posts annual security reports on the Police Department website. To view the most recent Clery data, visit www.uthct.edu and click on the appropriate link at the bottom of the web page.
Q. What should I do if I see a handgun on campus and feel threatened?
A. If you see a visible handgun on campus, contact the UT Health Police Department at 903-877-5297. Emergencies should be reported to the Police Department by calling 903-877-5297 or internally dialing extension 4444.
Q. What should I do if I see a classmate with a gun?
A. UT Health prohibits the visible display of handguns. Contact the UT Health Police Department if you have a concern.
Q. Can I ask someone with a concealed weapon if he or she has the appropriate permit?
A. Yes. Anyone may ask, but the individual asked is not required to reply unless asked by a police officer.
Q. Can faculty members ask their students if they have concealed carry permits?
A. Faculty or employee managers may ask, but students, faculty, or staff are not required to provide that information, and faculty members or employee managers may not take any action against a student or employee who chooses not to answer. Any voluntary reporting by a student, staff, or faculty member about his/her concealed carry permit status should be done privately. Faculty members or employee managers should not, under any circumstances, coerce students or staff into revealing their concealed carry status or pressure them to answer concealed carry queries.
Q. Can individual faculty or staff members post signage that prohibits handguns in their offices or classrooms?
A. No. All of UT Health’s gun-free zones will be designated by the UT Health President and approved by the UT System and its Board of Regents. As UT Health develops its campus carry policy, it is taking great care to balance adherence to the law with the safety of the campus community.
Q. Can a student or staff member who legally possesses a concealed handgun be excluded from the classroom or office complex on the grounds that the student or staff members presence and his or her concealed weapon constitute a disruption?
A. No. The mere act of carrying a concealed handgun (with a concealed carry permit as authorized by law) is not in and of itself a disruption of class activity. Likewise, another person’s adverse reaction to someone carrying a handgun in accordance with the concealed carry act is not grounds to eject the permit-holder from the classroom or office complex.
Q. Can a supervisor request a list of employees who have a concealed carry permit?
A. No. This information is not a matter of public record.
Q. What responsibility does a concealed carry permit holder have to keep his or her weapon concealed? Are CHL holders violating the terms of their permit if someone gets a glimpse of their weapon?
A. A person with a concealed carry permit must conceal the weapon. If a person’s coat opens in the act of raising his or her arm to ask a question, for example, and a handgun can be seen, it is not a violation. A violation would occur when a person knowingly and intentionally displays the handgun in plain view of another person.
Q. What should I do if a student, staff member, visitor or patient displays a firearm on campus?
A. UT Health students, staff members, faculty members, visitors, or patients may not display their handguns on UT Health campuses. They must keep their handguns concealed at all times, barring life-threatening emergencies. If you see a handgun on campus, it should be reported to the UT Health Police Department so it can be documented and properly investigated. You can reach the UT Health Police Department at 903-877-5297 (for general calls) or internally at extension 4444 (for emergencies).
Q. What happens if I am at an off-campus event, sponsored by a UT Health and someone shows a gun? Is that okay since they are not on campus?
A. Handguns must remain concealed. If you encounter a situation at a UT Health-sponsored event, you should speak with the UT Health staff member who oversees the group that held the event. If you’re unaware of what type of UT Health event it was, contact UT Health Police Department at 903-877-5297.
Q. Can I bring my handgun with me on a walking tour of the at UT Health campus?
A. If you have a valid concealed handgun license (CHL) and you keep your handgun concealed, you may bring your handgun on campus starting Aug. 1, 2016. However, you may not display it publicly.
Q. How will UT Health manage someone who has a gun and is exhibiting threatening behavior?
A. It is a criminal act to exhibit threatening behavior with a gun, regardless of the individual’s concealed carry permit status. When a crime is committed on campus, UT Health police officers will respond and take appropriate law enforcement action.
Q. Does a police officer have the right to disarm me?
A. Yes. If a police officer reasonably believes a safety risk exists, he/she may disarm you. Be courteous and non-confrontational and follow the police officer’s directions.
Q. May I use my weapon as a means of defense if there are shots being fired?
A. A weapon may be used in self-defense only as allowed by law. By doing so, the person acting is doing so as a private citizen and not as an authorized agent of UT Health.
Q. What can I do to prepare for the new law?
A. The UT Health Police Department will offer training classes for students, faculty members and staff members about how to properly respond to a report of a person with a gun. You are encouraged to attend one or more of these training sessions.
Q. If an incident occurs in my classroom or work area with a person with a handgun, what should I do?
A. Do not confront the person; call Police. Help others to escape and run away if you can. Otherwise conceal yourself. Fight back if you have no choice. If you encounter police officers, follow their instructions.
Q. I’m a CHL holder in another state and I’m aware that Texas has reciprocity with my state. Will that be recognized in UT Health’s new campus carry policy?
A. UT Health is awaiting direction about how reciprocity agreements with other states should be enforced at public universities in Texas. As we learn more, we will update this webpage.