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Task force defines on-campus firearm transportation guidelines

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When Senate Bill 11 is implemented on campus in August, individuals with a handgun license will have to keep their firearms within their reach at all times.

Vicki Brittain, head of the Campus Carry Task Force, presented the new campus carry regulations to faculty and administrators at Faculty Senate’s Monday meeting.

“A gun must be carried in a manner that does not require a material change in position on the part of the owner,” Brittain said.

According to the regulations, when carrying a gun on campus, an individual must keep the firearm within easy reach and in a position that does not necessitate a significant shift in their stance or posture.

This measure is intended to prevent the gun from misfiring or being stolen, Brittain said.

Under these guidelines, keeping a firearm in a backpack would be prohibited. Taking off one’s backpack in order to access the gun would presumably constitute a ‘material change in position.’

“New policies must be created and existing policies will have to be modified,” Brittain said of the fast-approaching campus carry implementation date.

Members of the Campus Carry Task Force are working on a series of educational bulletins containing transportation and storage tips, safe meeting and classroom practices and general firearm handling information.

Members have yet to decide how such informational documents will be distributed. One possible action is allowing faculty to include information about gun safety in course syllabi.

Notice methods have yet to be solidified. A potential vehicle for gun safety education is syllabi inserts—professors would have the choice to include.

Task force members are exploring possible firearm training opportunities for students, Brittain said.

“My experience serving on the task force has left me with two distinct impressions,” Brittain said. “First of all, we are a very divided campus when it comes to this issue. This has been indicated by the open surveys we have released online, and in our focus groups.”

Results from surveys have shown the Texas State population is split almost 50/50 on this issue—faculty, students and staff alike, Brittain said.

In addition to the proposed transportation guidelines, Brittain presented a set of four refined rules, on which parts of the campus carry implementation process will depend.

The first rule states the university will not manage or provide storage for firearms owned by students, faculty or staff.

According to the second rule, President Denise Trauth retains the right to exercise discretionary authority and establish temporary additional gun-free zones through a request process.

The third rule states appropriate signage must and will be provided by the university.

The fourth of these rules explains how a weapon must be carried and prohibits on-person forearm storage when retrieval requires a material change in position.

“This campus is known for open dialogue,” said Provost Gene Bourgeois in regards to the months of open forums which preceded the finalization of these rules.

In addition to the Provost, some other attendees were President Denise Trauth, vice president for student affairs Joanne Smith, vice president for Finance & Support Services Eric Algoe, Honors Dean Heather Galloway and former Student Body President Lauren Stotler.

“People at the public open forums were very respectful of one another,” Brittain said. “I have been greatly impressed by the civil discourse we’ve been able to have about such a controversial issue.”