Brookhaven packs heat to class

SB 11 now allows licensed to carry holders to conceal carry handguns on campus.

By Jubenal Aguilar
Editor-in-Chief

Photo by Jubenal Aguilar
A student enters X Building, a designated gun-free zone. Signs are placed at the entrances of each designated gun-free zone around campus. E, P, U and X buildings, as well as parts of S, Q and T, are designated gun-free zones.

All Dallas County Community College District colleges are now required to allow concealed carry of firearms on premises.

Senate Bill 11 allows licensed to carry, or LTC, holders to carry concealed handguns on Texas public college campuses, according to DCCCD.

The law was passed by the Texas legislature and signed by Gov. Greg Abbott in June 2015, according to a district concealed carry website.

The law went into effect at four-year colleges and universities Aug. 1, 2016, and at two-year schools one year later.

In accordance with the law, institutions of higher education were also allowed to adopt rules or regulations that prohibit license holders from carrying in certain areas of a campus, in a building or part of a building. However, campuswide bans are not allowed under SB 11, according to dcccd.edu.

COMMITTEES FORM

In a June press release, Ann Hatch, DCCCD’s director of media relations, said DCCCD formed a districtwide concealed carry committee in Fall 2016 to comply with SB 11. Each campus also had its own local committee. Brookhaven College’s committee was led by Rick Maxwell, executive dean of the Brookhaven College School of the Arts.

Collectively, more than 40 open and public forums were held across district campuses in January and February to discuss the law and gather comments from students, staff, faculty and community members, according to Hatch.

After the forums, the districtwide committee drafted a policy in April and May. The policy was approved after its second reading June 6 during the board of trustees’ regular public meeting. An amendment to review the policy in two years was also added.

According to Hatch, the district’s policy was written to allow DCCCD to achieve its educational goals and to ensure programs and services operate efficiently.

The policy applies to all students, staff, faculty, guests, visitors and individuals and organizations that do business with the district or on its property.

DISTRICT GUN-FREE ZONES

According to district policy, concealed carry is not permitted in childcare centers, polling places, sporting or interscholastic events, or board meetings. Places where counseling services are offered, healthcare facilities, fitness centers and facilities, and labs or areas where potentially hazardous materials are located are also excluded.

Concealed carry will not be allowed in locations where pre-K and K-12 activities are held. This includes district-sanctioned youth camps and programs.

College district vehicles are also excluded from concealed carry.

BROOKHAVEN GUN-FREE ZONES

In a July campuswide email, Meridith Danforth, Brookhaven director of marketing and creative services, said certain areas of Brookhaven have been designated as exclusion zones and have signage in place to identify them. Signage is located at the building entrances and in key points throughout each building.

These exclusion zones include the entirety of E, P, U and X buildings. The first floor of Q Building, which includes the automotive bay area, is also a designated gun-free zone. In T Building, concealed carry is prohibited in the gymnasium and the lower level, where the weight room, locker rooms and studios are located. In S Building, the Health Center and Counseling Center are designated gun-free zones.

Danforth said the board of trustees recognized the need to create temporary exclusion zones. These will be handled on a case-by-case basis. Requests to designate an area on Brookhaven as a temporary exclusion zone will be processed through Danforth and must be received no less than three business days before an event. The form to request a temporary exclusion zone can be found on the district’s concealed carry website.

GETTING AN LTC

Abbott’s administration has also pursued other means of easing Texans’ ability to obtain an LTC. On May 26, the governor signed a law lowering the price of gun licenses and renewals to $40, from $140 and $70, respectively, according to The Dallas Morning News. This gives the state one of the lowest fees in the country.

Edgar Simpson, a Brookhaven facilities painter, is an LTC instructor. In an effort to help district employees who want to obtain a license, he offered the required LTC certification class at a discounted rate. The course follows a state-mandated curriculum and requires roughly four hours of instruction.

Simpson said 15 people signed up for the course during summer. He said he is still offering the course to anyone who is interested.

In an email to The Courier, Capt. Mark Lopez, Brookhaven police chief, said, “Gun safety is the responsibility of the licensed holder and enforcement of law violations are the responsibility of law enforcement officials.”

Lopez said anyone who sees someone displaying a firearm should report it to campus police at 972-860-4290.

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