North Texas Daily

UNT debates campus carry

UNT debates campus carry

October 15
00:41 2015

Rachele Blick | Staff Writer

@rachele_blick

The university heard from the UNT community Tuesday and Wednesday nights in the first of several scheduled open meetings set up for students, faculty and staff to have their opinions acknowledged before the Campus Carry Task Force, which was appointed by UNT President Neal Smatresk.

The task force heard from students Tuesday and staff members Wednesday.

Much of the focus was on gun free zones, questions about how this policy will make students and faculty safe, and the difference between open carry and campus carry. Others were concerned about the safety of dorms and if non-collegiate sporting events will be gun-free zones.

Committee chair Eric Fritsch began the speech with a slideshow concerning the bill and UNT. He put emphasis on the effective date of the policy for campuses, which will begin Aug. 1, 2016.

He also placed emphasis on the CHL holders themselves.

“UNT cannot revoke the right of a CHL holder to carry on campus,” Fritsch said. “CHL holders are law-abiding citizens. They have to be in order to get licenses.”

Fritsch showed the statistics of felonies committed in 2013. Out of the 51,000 people statewide who have been convicted of a felony, 158 of them were CHL holders.

To be eligible, both Fritsch and UNT police chief Ed Reynolds said, a carrier must be over the age of 21, cannot be convicted of a felony, cannot have a Class A or B misdemeanor, and within the past five years cannot have a felony indictment.

“CHL holders are unlikely to violate the law,” said Fritsch.

Reynolds said only the police can ask students if they are a CHL holder. It is illegal for UNT administrators to ask CHL holders to identify themselves.

Fritsch said the university will notify the campus community on which buildings and areas on campus will be gun-free zones.

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

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

After Fritsch presented the slideshow, he opened the floor to questions.

Most of the questions were on matters of campus safety, gun-free zones and how to inform people on gun safety measures.

The International Center director Olga Grieco suggested making Marquis Hall a gun-free zone. She argued that some people may misinterpret the campus carry law and think that anybody, even those without a CHL, are allowed to carry on college campuses.

A few people asked about sporting events, and whether athletic arenas will be gun-free zones, or whether the new law will affect tailgating or intramural sporting events.

Fritsch said the task force will consider making Apogee Stadium a gun-free zone only when the football is playing, though nothing official has been determined.

Information technology employee Christian Giesecke, who is a CHL holder, explained the pressures on CHL holders and their responsibility to the community.

“It is a step above a normal crime as a CHL holder,” he said. “We are taught to be held responsible for anything and we are liable if someone gets shot.”

He said bystanders could sue CHL holders if they are accidentally shot in the presence of an active shooter.

He added that he would not be comfortable to be allowed into a private business, labs with chemicals or children areas, and wants those places to be gun-free zones.

Featured Image: UNT campus carry task force chair and criminal justice professor Eric Fritsch goes over the campus carry requirements at the first town hall style forum regarding the new law at the Gateway Center on Tuesday. Kristen Watson | DRC

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