Texas attorney general says community colleges cannot prohibit guns for instances involving minors

Sarah Philips

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton announced community and junior colleges would not be able to generally prohibit guns on campus for occasions when minors are involved at the schools in an opinion released Wednesday. 

The opinion was filed in response to a query from state Rep. Abel Herrero, D-Robstown, asking if campuses could prohibit guns for programs such as College for Kids, in child care centers or in cases where minor students attend classes on the campus.

Paxton’s statement provides legal clarification on the gun laws passed in the past year. The campus carry law, originally passed on June 13, 2015 during the 84th legislative session, took effect on college campuses on Aug. 1, 2016. Before the law was fully implemented, each institution of higher education was allowed to “establish reasonable rules, regulations or other provisions regarding the carrying of concealed handguns by license holders.”

Paxton addresses the ability of campuses to prohibit guns for special programs or events where minors may be in attendance at junior and community colleges, stating officials cannot ban concealed handguns based on the presumed presence of minors.

“Unless the classes or special programs about which you ask are actually sponsored by a school instead of the community or junior college, this phrase similarly does not prohibit concealed handguns on a junior or community college campus,” Paxton wrote in the opinion. “[The law’s] prohibition is based on premises and activities, not on the demographics of the people in those locations or on the people participating in those activities”

Paxton states institutions are allowed to prohibit concealed handguns in certain areas and rooms on campus, as long as those restrictions are only targeted toward those specific rooms where minors are present.

“Those rules do not operate to ‘generally prohibit or have the effect of generally prohibiting license holders from carrying concealed handguns on the campus of the institution,’” Paxton wrote, also pointing out that handguns are not banned in places such as movie theaters and museums because of the presence of minors. 

This opinion comes four months after the introduction of campus carry on Texas university campuses, which allows licensed concealed handgun owners to carry on public campuses.