Guns In The Woods

By Gabrielle Moore, Editor in Chief

As the effective date of August 1,of the Campus Carry Law (formally known as Senate Bill 11 or SB11) approaches for Texas community colleges, the 51-member Lone Star College Task Force has worked diligently to incorporate, and compile the suggestions and considerations of system-wide 1,227 (Fall 2016)forum participants and 497 survey commentaries into 15 developed recommendations regarding the implementation of SB11 within the LSC System.

The chairs of the Lone Star College Campus Carry Task Force, Police Commissioner and LSC System CEO Rand Key and Chief of Police Paul Willingham, paid LSC-Kingwood a visit to conduct another campus carry forum along with several LSC-Kingwood specific task force members, including Vice President of Student Success Darrin Rankin and Student Government Association President Brandon Skidgel.

According to a poll survey administered on campus last semester by the LSC-Kingwood Student Life, “not too many people knew about Senate Bill 11 or what it [pertains] to, and even more, people did not know…what weapons can be carried, how old you have to be to have a [License to Carry a Handgun (LTC)],” Skidgel said.

“That [poll survey] was a little shocking, and that really made us kind of spur on the development of this forum here,” Skidgel added.

(Left) Vice President of Public Relations Nileh Irsan introduces the chairs of the Lone Star College Task Force, Police Commissioner and CEO Rand Key and Chief of Police Paul Willingham at the Campus Carry Forum on Apr. 18 in Student Conference Center. (Right) Student Government Association President Brandon Skidgel speaks at the Campus Carry Forum on Apr. 18 in Student Conference Center. Photo by Taylor Robson.

The forum held on April 18 in the Student Conference Center (SCC) , provided those attending a progress report on the developed policies and recommendations embodying the implementation of SB11 on LSC, as well as have discourse with the chairs of the Task Force. Moreover, the forum presented a different kind of environment that reconfirmed the reality of the effective date of this law as fast approaching.

“We all have had strong opinions of Senate Bill 11 from the far-left to the far-right,” Rand said. “It really doesn’t matter what my opinion is or what your opinion is, it is state law. We want to raise the bill, keep the spirit of the bill, and be the very best example. Keep in mind…that has been our overall goal.”

Police Commissioner and CEO of Lone Star College System Rand Key updates Lone Star College-Kingwood students, faculty, staff, and community members on the current and further steps in preparation for the full implementation and enforcement of Senate Bill 11 on LSC campuses at the Campus Carry Forum on Apr. 18 in Student Conference Center. Photo by Taylor Robson.

The Campus Carry Law became effective on August 1, 2016 for all public four-year institutions, while it will not go into full effect at community colleges until August 1 of this year.

Within the forum, Willingham provided one particular plan of safety precautions; a spreadsheet of locations on each LSC campus which are to be gun-free zones. This spreadsheet will become accessible on the Lone Star College website soon.

Lone Star College-Kingwood students, faculty, staff, and community members attends the Campus Carry Forum presented by the Student Government Association on Apr. 18 in Student Conference Center. Photo by Taylor Robson.

There will also be more educational materials for people to access through a link on the LSC website coming soon, Willingham said. Some of these materials will be available through different media and avenues, such as videos and fact sheets. Seminars and workshops will be provided for students and community members on campuses, too.

“The campus becomes no different now than your experience,” Willingham said. “It’s not going to be any different now than how it is now when you go to the grocery store…You probably have been around someone with a concealed handgun and a license to carry it, and you didn’t know.”

Chief of Police Paul Willingham reassures the crowd by clarifying what entails Senate Bill 11 on community colleges at the Campus Carry Forum on Apr. 18 in Student Conference Center. Photo by Taylor Robson.

Willingham guesstimated that “maybe 3 to 5 percent,” or 4000 to 5000 students system-wide would be handgun carry-license holders and properly utilizing SB11. Furthermore, Willingham hoped to reassure people that not only are there strict requirements and criteria to acquiring a LTC (such as having to be 21 years old and attending costly LTC classes), but that there is “a level of responsibility” within LTC holders that is “extremely [serious].”

First-year student and SGA president-elect Sarah Porter recognizes that “there’s always going to be that worry [of ‘what if’s’]. I don’t think that’s ever going to go away.” Nevertheless, she “[doesn’t] see much happening” because “we already have more of a realized campus as it is.”

“I’m not necessarily pro or against [SB11], but I think that having protection is beneficial, and I think that [this law is] timely,” Porter said.

Lone Star College-Kingwood students, faculty, staff, and community members participate in quiz on Campus Carry Law through their mobile devices at the Campus Carry Forum on Apr. 18 in the Student Conference Center. Photo by Gabrielle Moore.

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