UT Austin officials say there shouldn’t be much of a difference for anyone on campus now that concealed handguns are allowed on school grounds. In fact, officials have said that if you see a gun on campus, you should call the police.
UT Austin president Greg Fenves had a simple message for students and staff on campus Monday.
“If you see a gun, call the police. That will not change.”
Because open carry is still illegal on college campuses across the state, no one should see a gun while they are at school. But if they do, or they think they do, Peter Scheets with UT’s police department wants to know about it.
“We want to make sure that when the public calls in that they are not confronting and they are not escalating the situation. Our officers are trained to respond to those types of situations.”
And let’s say someone did break the law – maybe they open-carried on campus, brandished their weapon, or brought a concealed handgun into one of the many spots on campus where that’s still illegal. What happens next could run the gamut. Depending on the situation, Scheets said that person could be cited or even arrested, meaning a fine or jail time. But ultimately, Scheets says, gun owners are usually pretty careful about this kind of thing. In fact, he says UTPD rarely has to deal with situations like this.
“Where we have taken an enforcement action, I counted those and added those numbers up and it amounted to six, between the years 2004 and 2016,” Scheets said. “So we are not talking about a lot of contacts.”
Scheets said for the most part he expects gun owners will continue to keep track of where they can and can’t take their guns. There are still a lot of places on campus where you can’t bring a concealed weapon.
“I think with the exclusion zones, and there’s state and federal laws that exclude some areas on campus as well, that those individuals are still going to be responsible and make sure that they plan their day accordingly. But I think a lot of them are going to find out it’s basically not worth the effort to bring it on to campus.
Fenves and Scheets both said they would continue to educate students and faculty about what the new law means, especially as the start of the school year approaches.