UNT campus carry policy draft available for review and comment

Jan. 21, 2016

Dear UNT community,

Happy New Year and welcome back to campus. I hope that you enjoyed your holiday break.

As many of you are aware, on Aug. 1 Texas Senate Bill 11, also known as “campus carry,” will take effect. The new law will allow for licensed holders to carry concealed handguns on Texas university campuses. This should not be confused with the open carry law that is now in effect. Open carry does not apply to public universities, including UNT.

With passage of the campus carry law, universities were asked to appoint a task force or committee to develop suggestions for gun-free zones on campus. The law doesn’t allow us to ban concealed handguns in ways that flout the law, such as banning them in classrooms or offices, but we can establish gun-free zones at large events, including athletic, intramural and performance events, and places where there are minors or children.

With all of this in mind, during the past four months UNT’s 23 task force members worked diligently to develop a campus carry policy and guidelines that make the safety of our campus community a top priority. They’ve closely reviewed the new law, consulted with the university’s legal office and other Texas universities, and researched crime statistics dealing with campus carry policies and licensed concealed handgun owners. As part of the review, they also gathered input, answered questions and discussed the impact of the law for UNT during a series of campus Town Hall meetings held throughout October. I sincerely thank them for their service.

Upon completion of its review in December, the task force submitted its recommended draft campus carry policy to me. The draft policy adheres to the law and its intentions and provides strong guidelines — including designated gun-free zones — to protect and keep our campus community safe.

Given the sensitive nature of this policy, we wanted to give our campus community the opportunity to see our draft policy and provide input. I encourage you to take time to review the draft policy at campuscarry.unt.edu and submit comments you may have using the website’s “Share Your Thoughts” section or by emailing the task force at campuscarry@unt.edu by the end of the day Feb. 8.

In February, the UNT System Board of Regents is expected to review the draft policy for approval.

Since the law was passed, I have heard from both camps — those who welcome the law and those who fear it. I understand the concerns. It’s my job to make sure we implement a policy that upholds the law and upholds our public safety. I think the task force has created a clear, thoughtful, measured draft policy that does a good job of walking that fine line. Based on the feedback we’ve gotten, we’re also looking at other ways that we can address people’s concerns and promote a safe, secure environment once the law takes effect.

I hope you will read the draft policy and take part in this important discussion. Awareness is key. The more educated each one of us is about the law and the policy, the more effective our campus carry policy will be for everyone.


Neal Smatresk