The latest: UNT’s campus carry policy

The latest: UNT’s campus carry policy

The latest: UNT’s campus carry policy
January 21
03:11 2016

Evan McAlister | @evan_McAlister

Haley Yates | @haleysocoollike

Updated

The university’s latest campus carry policy draft prohibits CHL holders from carrying handguns at graduations and at the UNT police department, but it allows CHL holders to carry in most lecture halls, inside most faculty offices and in residence halls.

It establishes gun-free zones, allowed by the Texas Legislature. People will not be able to carry at the UNT Police Department, nor will there be weapons where minors are present, like McConnell Hall or the UNT Kristin Farmer Autism Center.

The university hopes guns will not be allowed at sporting events, but CHL holders will be able to carry at sports arenas when games are not being played. UNT does not want CHL holders to carry at the University Union meditation area.

“I would prefer not having CHL on campus, but that’s not an option,” UNT president Neal Smatresk said. “That said, I think we have done the best we can, and after this is applied, like many other things in life, it’ll just become part of the background and we won’t really be thinking about it a lot.”

Based on the current draft, students with a CHL who live on campus will be required to keep their handguns in a safe inside their room. Parents and non-residents must keep their firearms on them at all times and handguns in the room safe.

Universities in Texas must aim to comply with the law while ensuring the public’s safety concerns are met. Smatresk and the Task Force are developing an internal policy based off the legislation’s suggestions on how to execute campus carry.

“While most people perceive strong negatives associated with this in universities, we should be aware that if there are situations that arise, we should be ready to use them to our advantage, as well as any other means available to us,” Smatresk said.

The Task Force is currently working on a series of trainings on crisis and conflict management in the event of a CHL-related emergency. Smatresk hopes students will take advantage of programs that will allow them to be proactive about their personal safety and awareness.

“We hear students cry for help and sometimes that’s more serious,” Smatresk said. “Sometimes it’s whimsical, and sometimes it’s urgent and should be attended to. How we deal with a student that is experiencing that crisis is something that I feel every campus in the United States needs to get better at.”

Some students are concerned about the new law and are fearful about weapons being allowed on campus.

“I’m personally not a fan of campus carry,” converged broadcast media junior Olivia Flores said. “When I found out that it passed, I was terrified. No guns on campus, except for those on policemen, would make me feel safe.”

Smatresk also believes more officers visible on campus will enhance the community’s sense of security.

“We want to make sure that our campus officers are visible,” he said. “I believe that chief Reynolds runs an incredibly professional and very good organization for college students.”

Featured Image: UNT biology freshman Austin Rodgers asks a prepared question during the first town hall style forum on campus carry at the Gateway Center. Kristen Watson | DRC

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