WTAMU Continues Conceal Carry of Handguns on Campus

Texas House Bill 1927, or the Firearm Carry Act of 2021, went into effect on Sept. 1, 2021. This bill states, “Relating to provisions governing the carrying of a firearm by a person who is 21 years of age or older and not otherwise prohibited by state or federal law from possessing the firearm and to other provisions related to the carrying, possessing, transporting, or storing of a firearm or other weapon; creating criminal defenses.”

This bill allows citizens of 21 years or older to be able to carry firearms without permit.

On Aug. 31, 2021, West Texas A&M University faculty, staff and students received an email from University Police Department stating that, “Only a licensed person may carry a handgun on any WT property, and the handgun must be concealed.”

Even with the Firearm Carry Act of 2021, WTAMU will not be changing its handgun policy, established in 2016.

“The decision to continue concealed carry was not WT’s decision, it was based on the legislative interpretation of the new law,” said Shawn Burns, Chief of Police for WTAMU University Police Department.

The Firearm Carry Act of 2021 was written in consideration for open carry only in certain areas.

“Institutions of higher education are not one of the areas where constitutional carry is allowed. The only way an individual can carry a handgun on our campus is if they are a LTC (licensed to carry) holder and carry the weapon concealed. Anything other than that could result in criminal charges,” Burns said.

This new carry law is being referred to as “constitutional carry”. According to Texas Governor Greg Abbott, constitutional carry is made to instill freedom in the Lone Star State.

When speaking with WTAMU students that have their concealed carry license, both sides of concern and approval were expressed. Desmond Little, senior wildlife biology major, stated his thoughts on constitutional carry.

“Constitutional carry is a good thing as a citizen, but as a student, I think it would be smart to remain concealed,” Little said. “The Constitution may give us all of the rights in the world, but the individual still has to hold the responsibility.”

With the number of mass shootings in Texas increasing, the awareness and practice of firearm safety is very important. Guns are to be used in proper conditions with cautious handling.

“Carrying a deadly weapon is a far bigger responsibility than most people are prepared for,” Little said.

There are many firearm safety and Texas License to Carry courses available online and in the Canyon/Amarillo area.

For more information on firearm safety, visit www.nra.org.