Constitutional carry would bring challenges, UHPD chief says
The UHPD chief has called for the state legislature to not pass a law allowing constitutional carry throughout the state, including on college campuses, last week during a University of Houston System Board of Regents meeting.
Constitutional carry would allow Texans to carry a firearm, concealed or open carry, without first getting a permit, according to the Star-Telegram. Chief Ceaser Moore, speaking to the UH System Board of Regents about an open carry report, said the discussion of constitutional carry at the state legislature is concerning.
The University would have to have secure facilities in each building on campus that is campus carry excluded or has a campus carry exclusion room to allow storage of weapons, Moore said. The University has more than two dozen campus carry exclusion zones, according to UHPD.
“For us, that would be monumental if that passed,” Moore said. “If you look at the number of buildings where we have rooms excluded, we would have to put secure facilities in all of those locations and that’s just not smart and that’s just not viable to do that.”
Under constitutional carry, more people would be allowed to bring firearms to campus. No paperwork would be needed for a student to be able to bring a firearm to campus.
As of now, Texans must be 21 or older to have a license to carry a handgun, unless they are a member of the armed forces or former member, according to the Texas Department of Public Safety. Then, they can be 18.
Passing constitutional carry and the controversial “bathroom bill” are top priorities for Texas Republicans in the 2019 legislative session, according to the Texas Tribune.
“We support constitutional carry legislation through any legislative means so law-abiding
citizens may carry any legally owned guns openly or concealed while maintaining the option of a permit for reciprocity purposes only,” according to a Texas GOP approved platform regarding constitutional carry.
The state legislature discussed constitutional carry in 2017 but failed to pass it, according to the Texas Tribune. Moore said he has told officials from the state his concerns regarding constitutional carry.
At the meeting, Moore said the University of Houston System will send its required biennial report to the state about how the implementation of campus carry is going throughout the UH System.
Since campus carry arrived in 2016, he said the University dealt with many buildings requesting to be an exclusion zone for campus carry, but that has since stabilized and only new buildings being built are applying.
All campus residence halls are campus carry exclusion zones except the University Lofts. Moore said parents come to him concerned about the off-campus apartments’ policies, but the University can’t control them.
“Those off-campus housing is akin to your own private home and has nothing to do with UH,” Moore said.
More than 1.2 million Texans have an active concealed carry permit for firearms in Texas, according to a concealed carry resource website.
Thirteen states already have constitutional carry for their residents, according to a concealed carry resource website. Some states restrict only give residents the right to constitutional carry, but most don’t.
Texans are allowed to hide a handgun in their vehicle without a permit. However, they must have a permit for concealed or open carry.
As a public university, UH would have very limited power outside applying for exclusion zones to restrict access to people carrying firearms. A private University, like the University of St. Thomas, would not have to allow firearms on campus.
In 2015, the University of St. Thomas opted out of campus carry, according to the Houston Chronicle.