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Campus Carry in Texas

Campus Carry in Texas refers to the legal provision that allows licensed individuals to carry concealed handguns on public college campuses. For campus carry, the handgun must be concealed and the person carrying the gun must have a license to carry.

Understanding the laws that apply to individuals on public university grounds is vital for students, educators, and the general public in Texas. The article is a comprehensive guide to gun laws as they apply to college and university campuses in Texas.

History of Campus Carry in Texas

Campus carry became legal in Texas on August 1, 2016. Originally this law allowed individuals 21 and older to legally possess handguns on college campuses with a license to carry. However, a federal lawsuit in Fort Worth extended that right to individuals 18 and older.

Does Campus Carry Apply to All Texas Colleges and Universities?

No. Campus carry applies to all public universities. It does not apply to private universities, although private colleges and universities may opt-in.

Campus Carry Status for Major Texas Colleges and Universities

Institution

Public/Private

Opted into Campus Carry (if private)

University of Texas System

Public

Campus Carry

Texas A&M University System

Public

Campus Carry

Texas State University System

Public

Campus Carry

University of Houston System

Public

Campus Carry

Texas Tech University System

Public

Campus Carry

University of North Texas System

Public

Campus Carry

Baylor University

Private

No

Southern Methodist University

Private

No

Rice University

Private

No

Texas Christian University

Private

No

St. Edward’s University

Private

No

Trinity University

Private

No

In fact, no major private college or university has opted into Campus Carry in Texas. The only private college to have opted in is Amberton University, a small nonprofit school in Garland.

Understanding Campus Carry in Texas

Campus Carry allows license-holders to have concealed handguns at public universities. A recent federal court decision found no basis to prevent 18, 19, and 20-year-olds from not being able to do the same, so now individuals over 18 who have a license to carry may conceal a handgun on their person at public colleges and universities in Texas. Still a very small fraction of university students have a license to carry in Texas.

Campus Carry Concepts

What is the Campus?

For purposes of Campus carry, “campus” means all the land and buildings owned or leased by the institution. This includes junior colleges, senior colleges, and universities. Campus carry does not include primary, middle, or high schools. It includes buildings and recreational vehicles, trailers, and campers that are being used as living quarters.

When did campus carry become legal?

In 2015, Governor Abbott signed Senate Bill 11 which codified the campus carry law into Section 411.2031 of the Government Code.

limitations on campus carry in texas

What rules can a public university or college set in regard to campus carry in Texas?

The college or university can set rules regarding the carrying of concealed handguns by license holders and the storage of handguns in dormitories and residential facilities – as long as they do not generally prohibit or have the effect of generally prohibiting license holders from carrying concealed handguns. For example, a university may not permit concealed carry at intercollegiate athletic events or spaces where K-12 programming is held.

Does campus carry allow handguns into classrooms?

Campus carry allows individuals with a License to Carry to carry handguns on campus, including in classrooms, if the handgun is concealed.

Where can a handgun be concealed?

A handgun may be concealed on or about a person. This includes a backpack or handbag as long as the license holder can reach the backpack or handbag without changing position.

handguns rifles campus carry in texas

Are rifles allowed with Campus Carry?

A License to Carry only allows the licensee to carry a handgun, not a rifle or shotgun. Therefore Campus Carry is limited to handguns.

Can you open carry in a college campus?

No. Although Texas passed Open Carry, it does not apply on college or university campuses. Open carry refers to the ability of a person who is 21 or older to carry a handgun in a holster without a permit openly. Learn more about open carry in Texas.

What happens if you carry a handgun on campus without a License to Carry?

If you don’t have a license to carry and you intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly possess a firearm on campus, you have committed a third degree felony pursuant to Penal Code Section 46.03.

Third degree felony in Texas
Third degree punishment range in Texas

What happens if a license holder intentionally displays the gun or open carries?

open carry vs campus carry in texas

 Texas Penal Code Section 46.035 says this is a Class A misdemeanor for Unlawful Carry of a Weapon – License Holder. Unlike most other situations, if you are at a college or university it does not matter if the gun was holstered or not. You cannot display it.

Class A misdemeanor
Class A Misdemeanors in Texas

Can I have a handgun in my car?

You can have a gun in you are 21 and otherwise legally able to possess a gun. The handgun should be holstered if you have a license to carry, or kept out of plain view if you do not have a license to carry. There are no restrictions on whether the gun can be loaded or not. There are also no restrictions on exactly where the handgun may be stored. There are no specific restrictions for rifles or long guns.

If you are between 18-20, you may be able to argue that recent rejection of age-based restrictions on being able to possess a firearm gives you the right to possess a firearm in your vehicle. For example, see DPS’s interpretation of the Firearms Policy Coalition, Inc. et. al., v. Steven McCraw, et. Al decision.

How old do you have to be to purchase a gun in Texas?

Under Texas law, you have to be 18 pursuant to Tex. Penal Code Ann. § 46.06(a)(2), (c).  Under federal law, you have to be 21 to purchase from an authorized dealer.

How old do you have to be to purchase a rifle?

Under Texas law, you have to be 18 pursuant to 18 – Tex. Penal Code Ann. § 46.06(a)(2), (c)

Other Resources:

Texas Castle Doctrine And Stand Your Ground

When You Should Call Us

If you are a student at UTA, TCU, or SMU who has been charged with gun possession, give us a call. There are serious charges that can disrupt your academic career and even leave you with a conviction or even face prison time. We have navigated these troubled waters successfully and are here to help. You can reach us at (817) 203-2220.

Varghese Summersett is a premier criminal defense firm based in Fort Worth, Texas. Our attorneys focus exclusively on criminal law and represent clients charged with crimes at both the state and federal level. We handle everything from DWI to capital murder to white collar crime. Collectively, our attorneys bring together more than 100 years of criminal law experience and have tried more than 550 cases before Texas juries. All of our senior attorneys served as former state or federal prosecutors and four are Board Certified in Criminal law, the highest designation an attorney can reach. We are the firm people turn to when the stakes are high and they are facing the biggest problem in their lives. - Contact Varghese at  
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