Last fall, Texas became the ninth state to allow concealed carry of handguns on campuses of four-year colleges and universities. This coming August, the law will go into effect for two-year colleges as well. Since the transition to the new environment in the universities went virtually unnoticed, many expected community colleges to simply adopt policies similar to the their four-year counterparts. However, a new issue has arisen that is causing second thoughts on which parts of campus can be designated gun-free.
Because of the dramatic surge in high school students taking advantage of dual-enrollment courses, some of which are held on college campuses, there has arisen a conflict in state policies.
At present, guns are banned from Texas public schools because the students are generally minors. Colleges have questioned whether the ban can be extended to college classes that also have minors, especially in dual-enrollment and early college high school programs.
The Texas Attorney General, Ken Paxton, has issued an opinion that colleges cannot ban guns from classrooms or offices because of the presence of some minors. The opinion leaves a bit of wiggle room when he writes that the ban might be justified if a class has “a congregation of minors.” The opinion does not set a percentage that would be necessary to reach this standard.
Throughout the years, faculty in Texas have fought having on-campus classes with large percentages of dual credit students. Many schools place a limit on how many high school students can be enrolled in a single section. As a result, it is highly unlikely any class would meet the “congregation of minors” standard.
While it is still possible for colleges to set a policy that tests the limits of that standard, as of now, none have indicated that they intend to do so.